Hit the brakes, Barbara.
That’s basically what the Massachusetts Teachers’ Association board had to say about the organization’s president, Barbara Madeloni, and her proposal that they approve $9.6 million to fight efforts to lift the arbitrary charter cap in Massachusetts. Reactions to their decision to slow the process down have revealed rifts within the ranks and in 21st century fashion, folks have taken to social media to air their grievances.
Deborah McCarthy, chairwoman of the MTA’s government relations committee, had this to say on facebook:
I was crying as I shared with you how embarrass[ing] it was to be thrown out of the room. At a time when we needed to push internal politicking aside and fight tooth and nail for our teachers and students, we were acting like a superintendent or Charlie Baker were running our board. (Boston Globe, Feb 3, 2016)
Crying. Really? (And something tells me parents and students would be in a far better place if Charlie Baker or Boston Superintendent Tommy Chang were running their board.)
One can certainly understand and even empathize with the frustration of not being allowed in the room during a board discussion and vote but there is a twisted irony when a union official expects the public to sympathize with her tears while she willfully ignores the countless tears shed by parents who have no adequate educational options for their children. She got kicked out of an executive session; they fear for their children’s futures.
Speaker DeLeo specifically cited tears of his constituents on a local radio show in recent weeks.
We have to give every child in the state the opportunity to succeed and quite frankly, I have so many parents who come in to talk to me, some of which are almost crying at the fact that they want to see their child in X, Y, Z school. And I feel that, who am I to deprive that child, if they have that opportunity, not to be able to attend a school of their choice? (Boston Herald, Feb. 2, 2016)
It’s unlikely that McCarthy is garnering much sympathy from those in the public who’ve seen her facebook post. They are more concerned with kids having good schools. They want a well educated populace. They want an economy filled with skilled workers. And many with children trapped on charter school waiting lists are solely focused on their dream that their child be the first in family history to cross a college graduation stage. They don’t care about adults bickering about executive sessions or crying about union politics.
They don’t have time for that.
Meanwhile, MTA president Madeloni remains steadfast and totally uncompromising in her commitment to fight the prospect of additional charter seats opening up in the Baystate. In a recent piece in Commonwealth Magazine, she’s quoted as saying this:
We will not accept any lift of the cap. That is not part of our equation.
Sorry Barbara but it is part of the equation for the majority of Massachusetts residents.
It is part of the equation for kids trapped in zip codes that don’t have what they need or want in terms of educational options.
And it is part of the equation for Speaker DeLeo and Governor Baker who are solidly on the side of passing a bill to lift the cap. Even the more skittish on charters Senate president Rosenberg is talking of compromise and nuance.
So while Barbara Madeloni faces a determined challenger in the next election and union officials cry about being kicked out of executive session discussions, parents will continue to wait, hope, and likely even pray that their children be allowed to go to the public school of their choice.
Beacon Hill knows what they need to do.