Massachusetts votes against early NEA endorsement in presidential election

Below are comments by Massachusetts Teachers Association President Barbara Madeloni. They were delivered by MTA Vice President Janet Anderson prior to a vote taken by the NEA PAC Council on Thursday, Oct. 1. A majority of PAC Council members voted to advance the recommendation of Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential primary. The council’s vote moved the issue to the next step — consideration by the NEA Board of Directors, which makes the final decision on any primary endorsement by the union. On Saturday, Oct. 3, the NEA Board voted in favor of endorsing Clinton.

Here is Madeloni’s statement:

Educators and union members across the country understand that public education and unions are facing a grave threat. Our challenges range from corporate interests using test scores, charters and receivership to undermine public education to attacks such as the Friedrichs case.

Indeed, we are at a particularly vulnerable moment.

“MTA members are asking many questions about the candidates, how we hold legislators accountable, and how we should use our collective power to create real change.”

— MTA President Barbara Madeloni

At the same time, however, I have found that members are more ready than ever to engage, show leadership, and act to defend our public schools and our union. Their energy and power are grown in the soil of union democracy. It is there that they discover the power not only of their own voices, but of the plurality of our voices — of the strength that comes through democratic processes.

The members of the Massachusetts Teachers Association are asking many questions about the candidates, how we hold legislators accountable, and how we should use our collective power to create real change.

Our members want a more deeply democratic union. They want power that emerges from the grassroots and does not come from the top down.

In Massachusetts, we will be responding to their questions by holding forums in which members engage in the discussion, debate and decision-making that comprise democratic unionism. We cannot do this for members. We must do it with members.

We wish, for the sake of the national union, that this body would do the same. We wish that it would build real grassroots power. Power that is much stronger than any candidate’s war chest. Power that will be sustained no matter what the outcome of the election may be.

Massachusetts votes against the endorsement of Hillary Clinton or any candidate for president until the membership has had every opportunity to participate in a deeply democratic discussion of the issues, the candidates, and the most effective ways to access our collective power.

NEA Board votes Hillary Clinton for primary recommendation