MTA president rebuts Globe columns

Text of letter submitted to the Boston Globe:

To the Editor:

In two recent columns, Jeff Jacoby accuses the Massachusetts Teachers Association of frequently advocating for more money for public education and placing a high priority on members' economic interests ("The real message in the MTA's ads" and "The bottom line for teachers unions").

Guilty as charged.

Adequately funding public education is good for teacher working conditions and student learning conditions. That's why the state's highest court ruled in 1993 that Massachusetts must spend more to educate low-income children in poorly funded schools. A new and better funding plan was codified under the Education Reform Act enacted that year.

Jacoby complains that the size of the teaching force "soared" by 108 percent between 1991 and 2002. That's wildly inaccurate. According to Department of Education data, it actually grew by 32 percent in that period. Thank goodness for that increase. Would Jacoby have us go back to the bad old days when 50 or more children were crammed into classrooms in districts such as Brockton, Holyoke and Lawrence?

Increased spending has led to a sharp rise in student achievement and SAT scores, as well as higher rates of college attendance and parent satisfaction. We still have a long way to go, however, which is why the MTA is strongly opposing the Draconian cuts in education proposed this year.

We are also proud to defend better compensation for our members. Paying competitive salaries is the best way to attract and retain highly qualified teachers and college faculty. That's good for our members -- and for the students we teach.

Sincerely,


Catherine A. Boudreau
President
Massachusetts Teachers Association