UMass professor and veteran union activist Max Page took over today as president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, as part of a leadership team including Hull educator Deb McCarthy as vice president.
Page, who has served as the MTA’s vice president since 2018, and McCarthy, a fellow longtime activist, were elected at this year’s Annual Meeting of Delegates, which was held in May.
“The MTA is in the midst of an incredible period of growth in terms of membership, power and influence,” Page said. “Our members have exhibited the essence of union solidarity in keeping students and communities safe throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. On public college campuses and across preK-12 districts, MTA members have refused to accept unnecessary austerity measures or curtailments on their professional autonomy. And they have been leaders in protecting public education from attacks by those seeking to privatize our greatest public good and weaken educators’ power.”
Page succeeds Merrie Najimy, who served two two-year terms as MTA president and was unable to seek re-election under union rules. Page is prepared to continue building and harnessing member power to move an agenda that includes increased funding for public higher education as well as ensuring that the Student Opportunity Act remains fully funded and that resources are delivered on schedule for preK-12 school districts. Page and McCarthy are also committed to furthering the campaign to win living wages and fair working conditions for Education Support Professionals and adjunct faculty members. The leadership team is also maintaining the MTA’s priority of ending the harmful MCAS regimen.
Page vows that the MTA will remain a leader in the fight for progressive taxes in Massachusetts, starting with passage of the Fair Share Amendment, which is Question 1 on the statewide ballot in November. In addition, the 115,000-member union is prioritizing action on climate change by advocating for Green NewDeal policies – especially where they can intersect with work that is happening in public schools and on public higher education campuses.
“The MTA, the largest union in Massachusetts, is an essential force in improving the lives of everyone in our Commonwealth,” Page said. “Our public schools and colleges are foundational to the quality of our communities, to creating the opportunities our students and families need, and to promoting values of social, racial, economic and gender justice.”
Under the new union leadership, the MTA will continue to push hard for the elimination of high-stakes standardized testing in Massachusetts’ preK-12 schools.
McCarthy has been a determined advocate for dropping the MCAS exams for many years.
"The MTA, the largest union in Massachusetts, is an essential force in improving the lives of everyone in our Commonwealth. Our public schools and colleges are foundational to the quality of our communities, to creating the opportunities our students and families need, and to promoting values of social, racial, economic and gender justice."Max Page MTA President
“While it is extremely difficult to leave the classroom after 25 years, it is an honor to join Max Page in a leadership role at the MTA as educators statewide fight for the public schools and colleges that all students deserve,” McCarthy said. “Public education is under attack by those who seek to privatize our schools for profit’s sake.
“I am prepared to fully dedicate myself to the passage of the Fair Share Amendment in November, to the fight for fully funded public schools and colleges, and to dismantling the high-stakes, racist and weaponized testing regime and replacing it with educator-driven alternatives that benefit students and schools rather than punishing them,” the new MTA vice president added.
Both Page and McCarthy were elected for two-year terms.
Page is a resident of Amherst. He is on leave from UMass Amherst, where he has been a professor of architecture since 2001. He also has served as the director of the Master of Design in Historic Preservation Program. He previously was a member of the MTA’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors and is a former president of his local association, the Massachusetts Society of Professors.
McCarthy has been a longtime educator in the Hull Public Schools, most recently teaching fifth grade at the Lillian M. Jacobs Elementary School. For more than two decades, McCarthy has served in a variety of leadership roles in her local union, the Hull Teachers Association, including as president and vice president.