Coakley statement on charter schools and MTA response


This has been a difficult week for supporters of public education who are committed to the electoral process. While MTA members across the state have been hard at work to get out the vote for Martha Coakley, MTA's recommended candidate for governor, the candidate herself has made a very troubling statement about the rejection of proposals for charter schools in Brockton and Fitchburg.

On Tuesday, Coakley asserted: "Families and children in Brockton and Fitchburg deserved better."

Many of you wrote to tell me of your anger and confusion about Coakley's statement. I felt very much the same, and I communicated this to her in a phone call.

I told her about the forum held in Fitchburg just the night before, where educators spoke with hope of their vision for public education and their frustration with the inequities that keep them from reaching this ideal.

I told her how moved I am each time I am in a room of educators - moved by their intelligence, expertise, and profound understanding of the central human core of our work. I told her that educators are choking on mandates and fed up with constant assaults on our dignity and hard work.

Coakley's statement shows that she needs to listen more attentively and responsively to what educators are saying.

We demand only what we need to do our jobs and help our students succeed: adequate resources, professional autonomy and respect, and a commitment on the Commonwealth's part to the well-being of every child.

Since Coakley issued her statement, she has been replying to e-mails from MTA members.

"Martha recognizes that innovation and great teaching are happening in both the Brockton and Fitchburg public schools," states a reply sent to a member by the Coakley campaign. "High-quality education can take place in charter schools as well. Martha has said consistently that she favors a lift in the charter school cap as long as we hold charters accountable for the success of their students, ensure adequate protections for teachers, and prioritize greater investment in our public education system across the board."

Last night, I met with the presidents of the MTA's large locals, and we discussed Coakley's statement and our response. Tonight and into Saturday, the MTA Board is meeting in Sturbridge, and I will ask my fellow elected MTA leaders to discuss how we should proceed in speaking with our recommended candidate and addressing the deep anger and disappointment among our members.

You will receive another e-mail from me on Monday discussing the Board's deliberations.

In the meantime, if you are a full-time release president or a retiree, please plan to attend a meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 21, at 75 Pleasant Street in Malden, so that you can stand with fellow MTA members and others who are committed to public education. Our plan is to address the members of the BESE on the critical issues we are facing, and I hope you will be there with us.

In solidarity, and in anticipation of many great things ahead,