Strengthening Union Democracy

Robust debate and active membership engagement at all levels of governance will strengthen our union. In this e-mail, I invite you to partake in one or both of these activities within the MTA.

Robust debate about MTA's role in elections

Throughout the fall election campaign, I received numerous e-mails regarding the MTA's relationship to electoral politics. I heard a range of opinions, from those urging more involvement to those demanding that we exit politics altogether to those who wanted a new look at how we recommend candidates.

Differences of opinion were starkly apparent over PAC contributions, what it meant to recommend a candidate who supported charter schools and other issues.

Indeed, it became very clear that members are of many minds about how we, as the MTA, should approach electoral politics, recommend candidates and participate in campaigns.

Members are asking critical questions: What happens when we recommend candidates who then vote against us? Is the "lesser of evils" the lens through which to recommend a candidate? How do we measure a candidate's strengths in order to give and continue support? What other means of organizing and growing political strength might we be engaged in?

As a democratic union, we should discuss and debate these questions. Submit a letter to the editor of MTA Today for possible publication in the next issue, where we will have up to two pages devoted to member discussion of the question: "What should MTA's relationship be to electoral politics?" Letters should be no more than 200 words and must be submitted by Jan. 9. Send your letters to MTA Today, 20 Ashburton Place, Boston, MA 02108, or e-mail them to mtatodayletters@massteacher.org. Be sure to include your full name, your MTA affiliation and the best ways to contact you.

On another post-election note, former MTA President Paul Toner has informed us that he has accepted an invitation to serve on Republican Governor-elect Charlie Baker's Transition Committee on Education. Paul made this decision without consulting with the current MTA leadership and, if appointed, would not be representing the association in such a capacity. As members are aware, the MTA recommended Democrat Martha Coakley in the Nov. 4 election and worked hard to encourage educators and other voters to support her.

MTA elections

State and national elections are not the only ones we should be talking about. The MTA is built on union democracy, and that requires member knowledge of - and active participation in - local, state and national union politics and elections. This website post will give you an overview of our governance structure and provide links to other important information. It offers lots of ways for you to speak, listen, debate and be part of shaping the future of the MTA.

Here is a brief overview of some of the ways you can be involved:

The MTA has an elected Board of Directors that meets throughout the year to oversee policy and other MTA interests. Find out about open Board seats, follow what is talked about at meetings and make your voice heard.

Locals send delegates to the Annual Meeting in May to vote on policy, Resolutions and the budget - and to set the path for the year ahead.

MTA elects members to National Education Association director seats and as delegates to the NEA Representative Assembly (NEA RA).

We have a committee that reviews candidates for state and federal office and committees to review recommendations for Resolutions, Bylaws and Standing Rules.

All of these opportunities have deadlines coming up - many as soon as Dec. 30 or Jan. 9 - to submit nominations or proposals. So check out the information on our website and consider running for office or becoming a delegate.

Strengthen our union: Deepen union democracy.

Foundation Budget Review Commission hearings

The next hearing of the Foundation Budget Review Commission will be held on Dec. 15 at the Somerset Berkley Regional High School Performing Arts Center, 625 County Street, Somerset. The public hearing is from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., and speakers are allotted three minutes each to deliver testimony.

I am a member of the commission, and I strongly encourage you to attend and tell your story. Please try to arrive early if you wish to speak.

The hearings provide educators with an opportunity to explain to legislators and state education officials what students need to succeed and to advocate for adequate funding for those goals. The hearings will continue in January and February. So please plan to attend one and take advantage of this opportunity to help create the schools that all children and families deserve.

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

Barbara