Our History

MTA members have been advocates for public schools for 170 years.
Every legislative and legal victory has been a victory for the MTA, for public schools and for the future.

  • 1845

    Eighty-five educators from across the state meet in Worcester, Massachusetts, on November 24 and establish the Massachusetts Teachers Association.

  • 1900-1920

    The first laws are passed offering pensions and job protection to teachers. A state aid law diverts a portion of state income taxes to poorer schools to equalize educational opportunity.

  • 1954

    All new teachers in the public schools must be certified. For a century, the MTA had advocated for passage of this law.

  • 1972-1980

    The MTA uses its political power to help pass important legislation: Chapter 622, which ensures access for students to all programs without regard to sex, race, religion or national origin; the Transitional Bilingual Education Act, guaranteeing bilingual education to students from myriad language backgrounds; and Chapter 766, guaranteeting appropriate services to the state's more than 100,000 special needs students.

  • 1980

    Passage of Proposition 21/2 places severe limits on local property taxes – the main source of funding for public schools. The impact is devastating.

  • 1993

    The Massachusetts Education Reform Act is signed into law. It dramatically restores state financial aid to public schools through a seven-year "foundation budget" commitment and, for the first time in state history, academic standards for public schools are no longer the sole purview of towns and cities. Rather, the state plays a key role.

  • 1999

    The MTA takes to the airwaves with its statewide paid media campaign promoting public education. After nearly a decade of lobbying, the Legislature passes retirement reform.

  • 2016

    The MTA and others in the Save Our Public Schools coalition overwhelmingly defeat Question 2, a ballot initiative aimed at sharply increasing the number of charter schools. The 62 percent to 38 percent win for the No on 2 forces sends a strong message in support of public schools that serve all students.

  • 1845-1899

    Progressive practices are implemented, such as physical fitness programs for students, special education, programs to address the problem of school dropouts (or "non-graduates," as they were then called) and a state tax to help poor school districts.

  • 1945

    The Legislature passes an equal pay law for men and women. The Legislature, however, leaves adoption of the law up to each individual city and town. Almost 20 years later, a number of Massachusetts school systems will still maintain two separate pay scales.

  • 1965

    Collective bargaining rights are granted to Massachusetts teachers. Within two years of the law's implementation, more than 200 teacher contracts are signed across the state. Within five years, $1 billion is added to teachers' salaries in Massachusetts.

  • 1976

    Public higher education joins the MTA.

  • 1984

    "Wall-to-wall" organizing opens the MTA to participation by all public school employees.

  • 1993

    The Supreme Judicial Court rules for the plaintiffs in the McDuffy lawsuit, ending a 17-year struggle to have the state's school financing system declared unconstitutional. The SJC rules that the quality of a child's education must not be limited by the wealth of the community in which the child resides.

  • 2005

    On February 15, 2005, the state Supreme Judicial Court dismisses the Hancock case. The decision reaffirms the fact that the state has a constitutionally enforceable duty to provide quality education to all students, but gives the governor and the Legislature more time to address inadequacies and disparities.

  • Ongoing

    MTA continues to organize educators and work with parents and communities to advocate for the schools our students deserve.