What Does Member Action Look Like?
How is Member Action’s platform different from that of the other candidates? We have:
A vision for public education
Ours is a vision for public education that embraces schools as places of joy, creativity, imagination, critical thinking and democratic engagement. We call for this vision of public education to be realized for every child. Our vision includes the kinds of communities we want our students to experience in and outside of school: just, democratic, and open to the range of human knowledge and experience.
An understanding that power resides in our members, not the statehouse, not corporate actors, and not in simple public relations campaigns.
For too long, the MTA acted out of a belief that having power depended on the leadership having a “seat at the table,” and not on our members. This strategy submitted us to the corporate agenda for public education set by billionaires. It yielded Race To The Top, The Teacher Evaluation System, High-stakes Testing, District Determined Measures, Stand for Children Legislation weakening our seniority rights, and weaker pension and health care reforms.
Member Action believes that our power resides in our union and the relationships we build with one another. We, along with parents and community partners, must create a shared vision of what we stand for. We must set the agenda for education. We must fight to reclaim public education. When we go to the table, we go with the full force of organized membership and community allies.
A plan to transform our union through deep internal organizing where members build statewide power by taking ownership at the local level.
Organizing means breaking through the isolation and helplessness we often experience in our working lives in order to act on the values that brought us to this work in the first place. Organizing means making spaces for members to share concerns and identify issues that impact them directly, and then training members on how to change their circumstances. Organizing starts with members asserting their professional knowledge, experience, and rights at the building level and continues through collective action at the statewide level within and beyond the union. We are stronger in every aspect of our working lives when we take an organizing approach to what goes on in our buildings, from curriculum changes to contract violations, and everything in between.
A commitment to coalition-building.
We believe our work must include partners – students, parents and community members – and that we are strongest when we stand together. That is why we are committed to working with the Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance (MEJA), the Raise Up Massachusetts (RUM) coalition, and the AFLCIO-MA. Through this work we are reframing the conversation over charters and testing in Massachusetts, working for economic justice across the Commonwealth, and building alliances with union brothers and sisters.
An understanding of the broader context of the assault on public education.
We know that the issues we face are not isolated. They emanate from a concerted attack on public education, public sector unions, and the common good itself by national actors from the Koch brothers, to Governor Baker and his friends at the Pioneer Institute here in Massachusetts. This understanding helps identify the threat and informs how we engage with it. We will not pretend that we share the same interests as those who are looking to privatize our public schools and bust our unions. Ours is a national, indeed international, struggle, and we welcome not only local alliances, but also national ones with those whose commitment is to defending public education, unions and democracy.
A commitment to counter the false narrative of austerity, hyper-accountability, and a shallow purpose for public education.
The plan of privatizers is simple: use tests to allege failure, cut off much needed funding, and then move to privatize public schools through receiverships and charters. We’ve seen it in action in New Orleans, Chicago, Flint, and Holyoke. Their accountability system is not broken: It is working just the way they designed it to work. But their story is not the truth, and neither is the austerity narrative espoused by the Governor and his partners in the State House who want us to do more with less while claiming we haven’t the resources to fully fund our schools and colleges. Member Action does not accept the accountability or the austerity narrative. Rather, we claim the right to fully funded public schools that do more than test and punish. We assert a purpose for public education that is broader and deeper than testing or college and career readiness - a purpose that reestablishes a vision of universal public education for our children and young people as essential to our democracy.
A willingness to name and take up the struggle for economic and racial justice.
We understand that racial and economic injustice impact our students and communities every day, and that public schools are powerful institutions that can be used to either reinforce injustice or give young people the tools to challenge it in order to build a more just society. We join in coalition to fight for our schools and for our communities, and for a society that is fair and inclusive for all people.
A platform based on action.
More than three dozen member forums. A week of action in June 2015 against high stakes testing. 29,000+ signatures for the Fair Share amendment. Two collective bargaining summits. A summer organizing institute. Next Generation Leadership training. Strong coalitions with Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance, Raise Up Massachusetts and AFLCIO- MA. Active local campaigns where presidents, know they have the full support of the state president as teachers assert themselves in contract campaigns, TSGold resistance, and a growing Opt Out movement.