School Talk

Union Calls On Teachers To Opt Out

Asked to take a DESE survey on #maedu frameworks, ed eval, etc.? MTA urges you to opt out. #edchatma

— Mass Teachers Assn (@massteacher) March 14, 2016

The Massachusetts Teachers’ Association is very much in favor of “teacher voice;” apparently, this is only true when they get to ask the questions.   

Seems that MTA is afraid to hear the truth from its own members. It’s not enough for them to be a cheerleader for the #OptOut movement; now they want teaching professionals to boycott a survey being put out by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. According to the DESE website, “these surveys give districts a feasible,sustainable, cost effective way to collect and report feedback to educators.”

It goes on.

Based on recommendations from stakeholders and research partners, ESE is recommending feedback be used to inform an educator’s self assessment, shape his or her goal-setting process, and/or demonstrate changes in practice over time.

And finally.

There is no specific weight accorded to or point value associated with feedback in an educator’s evaluation.

The strategy, and it’s not unique to the teachers association in Massachusetts, is to make parents and taxpayers think they care about how kids are doing so that they can take credit for being a ‘willing partner’. But when the rubber hits the road and it’s time to actually implement initiatives designed to make school better for 953,000 students across our state, they turn into a loud (and well funded) adversary. They rail against the measure and pressure (some would say bully) their members to follow their recommendation (some would say directive).  

Most Americans have high stakes attached to their evaluations; they can lose their job if their evaluation is poor and it’s common practice for employees to be evaluated annually by their boss. In addition, surveys are common so that employers can get feedback, not only from their own employees but also from their customers.  

But in the case of the DESE survey, there are no high stakes attached. No one is at risk of losing their job. On the contrary, it’s designed to allow teachers to share how they’ve done at meeting their targets. In Connecticut, where teachers participated in a similar survey, more than 94% of teachers self reported that they had met or exceeded their targets. But in MA, those that wield power inside the MTA want their members, their professional educators, to opt out.

It’s important to note that the MTA was initially, publicly supportive of the transition to Common Core and a new state assessment in Massachusetts.  They touted the efforts of the National Education Association’s role in their development (, and even painted the initial opponents of Common Core as a political adversaries ( Like teachers’ unions in other states, they give the impression that they are on board with improving school quality by feigning collaboration during the policy making phase.  Only to create chaos later by decrying the results of the very processes they help to author.

In this case, they supported the creation of creating a survey tool that would provide districts and the teachers themselves with important information about how they’re doing. Fast forward to the implementation phase, however, and suddenly, they rail against the very measure they supported just a short time ago.  They state the survey does not accurately capture educators views.  How exactly can you come to that conclusion without collecting any data?  

Make no mistake. They will continue to ask for more public dollars but they want taxpayers to pony up the money for education without there being any state or district initiatives to improve, reflect or gather feedback from those closest to the work of teaching the kids.

And as far as real accountability around student outcomes, they fight it at every turn.

It’s clear that fear is the driver in their unwillingness to even take a look at what teachers have to say on the DESE survey.

The question is, what are they so afraid of?

What do you think?

More Comments