N umerous challenges have shaped the MTA over the past year. We have risen to meet them, and in the process we have become
a stronger force for students, members and public
education. We have also become more strategic in
seeking opportunities, fighting the battles that need
to be fought for the common good, and preparing for
the many difficulties that lie ahead.
Since the last Annual Meeting, MTA leaders
and members have spent considerable time assessing
and refining our guiding
document, the Strategic
Action Plan. The process
has involved meetings
of local presidents, the
Board of Directors and the
Executive Committee. The
subject has been discussed
by members of the staff
and our division managers,
and I have devoted a large
amount of attention to it.
The many MTA members
and leaders involved in
these discussions were
gratified to see the degree to which the plan remains
relevant today, several years after it was adopted.
n We are continuing to educate, organize,
mobilize and engage our members, though we still
have some distance to travel on the road to becoming
a union that is fully member-driven.
n We are building our presence as the voice of
public education, and we must continue to do so.
n We are fully dedicated, as always, to providing
the highest level of assistance and training to our
more than 110,000 members and to helping them
gain the resources and power they need to achieve
their professional goals.
n We remain committed to electing pro-public-education candidates and to the success of every
student, and we recognize that success in the battle
for resources and support for our schools, colleges
and universities depends on the activism of MTA
At the same time, our deliberations — which
involved analyzing, prioritizing and digging deeply
into our activities and our structure — have led us to
a tighter formulation related to the Strategic Action
Plan. We are now applying it to all of our activities
— even as we closely adhere to the principles that
have made the MTA a great organization since it was
founded almost 170 years ago. Indeed, we are using
“strategic intent” — representing the heart of the
plan — to drive everything that we do.
It took some time to wordsmith, but here is
the foundational language we now bring to bear on
policy efforts, political campaigns, specific projects,
media work and other initiatives:
Our challenges have made us stronger
The “strategic intent” of MTA’s Strategic Action
Plan is to build power at the state and local levels
through the systematic engagement of more members
and leaders (organizing them through a process of
listening, asking, educating and mobilizing) so that
members decide what matters to them and then lead
the implementation and development of policy as the
recognized voices of public education.
Does the task at hand move us ahead in that
context, or does it not? If not, does it need to be
reassessed? Reconfigured? Abandoned? Figuring that
out is often difficult. But it is also worthwhile.
As I look back over the last year, I see progress,
and I believe that all of our strategic work has played
a key role in the advances we have made, as well as
in our ability to fend off the attacks that continue to
hit us one after another. The many ways our strategic
intent has been deployed include:
Developing Full Capacity Locals. More
than 25 local associations have brought teams to
FCL planning seminars to assess strengths and
weaknesses so they can build on the former and
address the latter. Locals have developed capacity in
negotiating, contract administration, communications
and political action, among other areas.
Working with coalition partners in every
area. The MTA has developed a variety of
productive partnerships. We are working with Jobs
with Justice on community organizing. We are
in regular contact with the NAACP about issues
of common concern. We are working with Teach
Plus and others to ensure that our members play
a strong role in professional development related
to the Common Core. We belong to Working
Massachusetts, which deals with issues of special
concern to public employees, and we are active
participants in the AFL-CIO.
Electing pro-public-education candidates. Our
Government Relations and Grassroots Campaigns
divisions, working with members and staff from
across the MTA, have recently played a critical
role in numerous successful political campaigns,
including those of U.S. Senator Edward Markey,
U.S. Representative Katherine Clark and candidates
for the Legislature.
Protecting members’ rights. The MTA Legal
Services Division has taken on more than 800 cases
while filing friend-of-the-court briefs in critical
education and labor cases.
Helping members learn, network and share.
Our new Training and Professional Learning
Division is off to an impressive start. More than
400 education support professionals attended
the recent ESP Conference in Falmouth, handily
beating the old record. Other successes include the
Ethnic Minority Affairs Committee Conference, our
Higher Education Conference, the 2013 Summer
Conference, the MTA Retired Gathering and the
association’s first UnConference. In addition, the
MTA was a key participant in the Safe School
Summit on Youth Mental Health, setting the stage
for further efforts in that area.
Ensuring proper implementation of the
new evaluation system. Many MTA divisions and
members have been involved in this process. We
have conducted surveys, developed detailed guidance
documents, trained evaluators and provided model
contract language related to District-Determined
Measures. And throughout, we have successfully
insisted on the proper role of collective bargaining.
Advancing the interests of public higher
education members. While working to achieve
fair contracts for all higher education members, we
have moved aggressively to represent the interests
of adjunct faculty and other staff. The Center for
Education Policy and Practice issued a well-received
report on the situation facing our community
colleges. Legislation to assist adjunct members is
under consideration, and we have made crucial steps
forward in resolving the problems of members who
joined the state’s Optional Retirement Program.
Activity in the Legislature. MTA members
and staff have lobbied hard for students and
public education. They have been relentless in
the battle to pass “An Act to Improve Quality in
Early Education Centers,” working hand in hand
with the members of the Massachusetts Early
Childhood Educators Union. We have continued
the fight for education funding, and the MTA has
succeeded in advancing a proposal for the revival
of a commission that would provide a systematic
review of the Foundation Budget formula. Our
focus has been on a streamlined legislative agenda.
Significant advocacy work has been done by more
than 400 members of our Legislative and Political
Action Teams and local Political Action Leaders, as
well as by MTA’s lobbyists.
Improving electronic communications.
Building on a new home page, we have made steady
and continued improvements to the MTA website and
the digital version of MTA Today while also preparing
for the replacement of massteacher.org with a more
robust platform that will expand our options, our
Internet presence and our strategic flexibility.
Budgeting carefully. The MTA’s cash condition
and liquid reserves continue to be very strong, the
result of years of reserve-building and sound fiscal
Holding regular gatherings of presidents and
using Board and Executive Committee meetings
for valuable discussions. There has been substantial
conversation at virtually every forum this year
concerning the Common Core, issues facing public
higher education, dealing with the arrival of the
Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College