MTA Annual Meeting delegates elect new leaders

Barbara Madeloni and Janet Anderson President-Elect Barbara Madeloni, left, and Vice President-Elect Janet Anderson at the MTA Annual Meeting of Delegates

Barbara Madeloni of the Massachusetts Society of Professors was elected president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association on Saturday, May 10, at the association’s 169th Annual Meeting of Delegates.

Madeloni, currently secretary of the MSP at UMass Amherst, garnered 681 votes, while current MTA Vice President Tim Sullivan received 584 in the contest for president.

Janet Anderson, president of the Taunton Education Association, was elected vice president of the 110,000-member union. Anderson won the vice presidency with 777 votes.

The two other candidates for vice president were Robert Becker of Wachusett and Len Zalauskas of Worcester. Becker received 359 votes, and Zalauskas received 117.

Madeloni and Anderson will assume their offices on July 15 and will serve two-year terms. President Paul Toner and Vice President Sullivan will have served the maximum two terms in those offices at that time.

In a candidate statement provided during her campaign, Madeloni pledged to “roll back the corporate assault and reclaim education.”

Madeloni taught English at Northampton High School and Frontier Regional School before becoming a teacher educator at UMass Amherst. She is currently on leave from UMass. She had been the coordinator of the Secondary Teacher Education Program.

Vice President-Elect Anderson, in a candidate statement provided during her campaign, pointed to a record that “shows that I’ve successfully advocated for sound education policy while at the same time protected our members’ interests.” Anderson, who has been president in Taunton for six years, is a fifth-grade teacher at the Benjamin Friedman Middle School in Taunton.

 “I offer my congratulations to Barbara and Janet upon their election,” said Toner. “They will face challenging times, and I wish them the best in leading our association and all of our members as we continue to fight for a high-quality education for every student in our Commonwealth.”

During the two-day meeting at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, the association presented several awards, and the delegates conducted an array of business. Several prominent speakers addressed the members who attended. More than 1,450 delegates were registered.

The delegates observed a moment of silence for Colleen Ritzer, a Danvers High School math teacher who was slain at her school, and other educators who died during the past year.

U.S. Senator Edward Markey greeted the crowd on Friday, May 9. He credited educators with helping him get elected first to Congress and eventually to the Senate. Markey commended “the teachers and administrators and other school employees who do their work with quiet dignity, and little or no recognition, but with the satisfaction of knowing every single day” that they have made a difference.

Greg Anrig, vice president of policy and programs at the Century Foundation, delivered the keynote address. Anrig spoke about districts — including Springfield — where schools have prospered by building collaboration among community groups, parents and educators.

He said that traditional “hierarchical approaches” to dealing with struggling schools have failed. “The jury is no longer out,” he said, and the evidence points to “relational trust” as the strongest factor in turning such schools around.

On Saturday, 2014 Teacher of the Year Anne Marie Osheyack spoke to the delegates about a “common core that is already in place in every school, in every city, and in every state” —not a set of standards, “but a set of teachers.”

2014 Teacher of the Year MTA President Paul Toner with 2014 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year Anne Marie Osheyack

These teachers, she said, “are purposeful in their choice of literature, aware that the right book cannot only challenge a student but challenge a stereotype, and the lessons they teach not only cross disciplines, but cross the thresholds of their school and into their students’ homes and their lives.”

Osheyack said that as she was growing up in difficult circumstances in a single-parent household, her teachers in New Bedford watched over her and “never, ever failed to ask how my day was going. This is the common core in action.”

Toner presented the President’s Award to Governor Deval Patrick for his advocacy and support for students, public education and MTA members.

Toner said Governor Patrick “has a personal understanding of the difference that a good education can make.” Since Patrick took office, Toner said, “it has been clear that he feels passionately about the importance of having a strong and vibrant public education system, all the way from prekindergarten through graduate school.”
The governor told the delegates that teaching “is personal for me.” He said his sixth-grade teacher was the first person to make a “kid on welfare from the South Side of Chicago imagine what it might be like to be a citizen of the world.”

The Friend of Labor Award was presented to U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren. The senator was unable to attend, but sent a video to be aired at the meeting.
“MTA is out on the front lines,” Warren said, “fighting for stronger investments in education that make sure that our kids have access to a high-quality, well-rounded education.”

“I share your commitment to our students,” she said.

Friend of Education Awards were given to three longtime MTA activists — Kathleen Roberts, Mary Gilmore and Louise Gaskins.
Toner presented the awards — which were kept a surprise to the recipients until the Annual Meeting — after a short film in which the three recounted their many decades as teachers and as activists in the MTA.

Toner said of the three, “They leave us in awe of their boundless energy, their deep institutional knowledge and their commitment to students, public education, unions and activism. They have mentored countless colleagues and for decades have helped others find their political voice and make it count. It’s hard to know where to begin in trying to explain what these three women have meant to all of us at the MTA.”

Toner himself was the recipient of a surprise appreciation on Saturday.

As photographs of Toner taken during his tenure as MTA president and vice president played in the background, Vice President Sullivan offered a heartfelt tribute.
He reminded the delegates that just because Toner’s term is up, he is not ready “to unfurl the ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner.”

“There is still a lot he has to contribute to education and labor policy issues, so I’m sure we will be seeing a lot more of him — whatever his future may hold,” Sullivan said. “Today, though, is our chance to say thank you, Paul Toner, for all you have done for public schools, public higher education and the Massachusetts Teachers Association.”

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