Our members and Martha Coakley

Greetings,

Over the last few weeks, we have seen a remarkable level of conversation and engaged debate within the MTA. From forums to Facebook to the MTA Board meeting, members have been talking about (among other issues) our candidate recommendations, in particular our recommendation in the governor’s race. The commitment, knowledge and thoughtfulness of our members have been on full display, as they were this past Saturday when about 100 MTA educators came to Quincy to speak to Martha Coakley, our candidate for governor.

In a meeting that lasted more than an hour, members spoke with eloquence and passion about the impact of high-stakes testing, the dangerous absurdities of the teacher evaluation system, the corporate assault on public education, the onslaught of mandates from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and our ongoing struggle to ensure that public schools are places that respect and attend to the whole child.

And Martha Coakley listened. She listened and spoke of how schools have become assembly lines and education has been “hijacked.” She listened and vowed to never support connecting evaluation to licensure. She listened and, in the course of that hour, not only developed a deeper appreciation for our work and the conditions of our work but, I believe, came to really understand why it matters to listen to educators.

Something shifted in the room on Saturday. A relationship was forged, not between Martha and me, but between Martha and our members. As in any relationship, there will be disagreements, and we will disagree fiercely when necessary (e.g., on charter schools). But now those disagreements will occur within a relationship in which we assert our knowledge and our power.

The difference in this candidate is that she came to us. The difference in this recommendation is that it now rests on the relationship we forged on Saturday – member to candidate – with member voices being heard.

When Martha wins next week with our help, it will mark a new turn and intensification of our relationship with elected officials, from the governor to legislators and members of Congress, in which members meet, speak and lead the process of informing our elected officials about our issues.

In order to get there, we need an all-out push in the next eight days to support Martha’s candidacy. Let’s get her elected – and then let’s continue to raise our voices with the same commitment, passion and eloquence that were on display on Saturday.

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

Barbara

P.S. Here are a few additional notes about election issues and communications from me:

  • I will be sending along video clips from the Saturday meeting as soon as possible.
  • The following link will take members to a site where they can enter their ZIP codes and find out about local activities that provide opportunities to help out in the Coakley campaign: http://marthacoakley.ngpvanhost.com/.
  • This e-mail and others from me will be posted on the MTA website at www.massteacher.org/presidentemails so it is easy for members to share them now and in the future.