Massachusetts Teachers Association launches ad campaign

The Massachusetts Teachers Association is airing a radio advertisement focusing on the impact that the lack of classroom resources is having on students throughout the Commonwealth. The ad, which began airing this morning on AM and FM stations in many of the state's media markets, also alludes to the belief among educators that too much emphasis is being placed on testing mandates. The MTA's one-minute spot calls on listeners to "give our schools the support they need."

"We all know that a high-quality education is the key to opportunity for the students in our public schools," said MTA President Catherine A. Boudreau. "Unfortunately, what is happening in our classrooms shows that much more must be done to provide the resources that children need to succeed."

Boudreau also noted that many educators believe the stress on testing that stems from the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System and the No Child Left Behind Act has impaired efforts to provide students with a well-rounded education.

The ad campaign is being launched at a crucial time for public education.

Last April, Superior Court Judge Margot Botsford, who presided over trial testimony in the Hancock v. Driscoll case, found that student plaintiffs "are not receiving the education to which they are constitutionally entitled." The Hancock case is now before the state Supreme Judicial Court, which is expected to issue a ruling soon.

The problems facing schools in Massachusetts have also been documented in several studies. Progress in Jeopardy, a report issued last year by groups representing teachers, school committees, superintendents and municipalities, found that in many communities, class sizes were increasing, fees paid by families were going up, and art, music and foreign language programs were being cut. A recent report entitled Quality Counts 2005, prepared by the editors of Education Week, noted that Massachusetts is below the national average in the percentage of total taxable resources spent on public education. And according to the most recent Census Bureau data,  Massachusetts, despite being a high-income state, ranks 38th out of the 50 states in the percentage of personal income that is spent on K-12 public education.

Although state education spending has been increased somewhat since the worst of the recession, it remains below the level it had reached before severe cuts were made. A proposal by Gov. Mitt Romney to boost Chapter 70 aid by $81 million would still leave state aid to school districts more than $200 million short of the amount allocated in Fiscal 2002, when inflation and enrollment are taken into account.

"These facts are troubling," Boudreau said "But it is even more troubling that the brunt of the shortfall is being borne by the students in our classrooms."

The MTA radio spot is airing on stations in Greater Boston, Brockton, Fall River, New Bedford, Pittsfield, Springfield and Worcester, and on Cape Cod. The spot was produced by SS+K, an advertising firm with offices in Boston and other cities.

The Massachusetts Teachers Association represents approximately 100,000 public education employees, including teachers, education support professionals, higher education faculty and staff, and future teachers.