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Madeloni Win Is Not a Win for Students

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Barbara Madeloni. (Photo courtesy of Boston Globe)

Barbara Madeloni, described as “fiery” by a Commonwealth Magazine piece headline, has won the re-election as president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association and that is just not a good thing for kids. A quick skim of past and recent comments by Madeloni leave little hope that compromise, collaboration, or common ground will play any significant role in her continued tenure at the helm of the MTA. While teachers, parents, education leaders, and even elected leaders are pushing the system to change, Madeloni is a fierce supporter of the status quo. She doesn’t fight for anything; instead, she fights against everything.

From the same piece in Commonwealth Magazine:

A DIVIDED MASSACHUSETTS TEACHERS ASSOCIATION re-elected its firebrand president, Barbara Madeloni, at the organization’s annual meeting on Saturday, ensuring a continuation of the sharp critique of education reform efforts from the top teachers union official in the state.

Madeloni has called for a moratorium on all high-stakes testing, vigorously opposes charter schools, and has been broadly critical of education reform measures. “My message was about speaking back to the corporate predatory reform that has really worked to undermine public education,” she said two years following her election.

“We are saying, ‘none of the above’ to the nonsense from comes from DESE,” she said, referring to the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. (DESE)

It is disheartening when a newly elected education leader has already decided that her position on initiatives coming out of DESE is “none of the above.” There is no nuance, no olive branch, no promise to try and mend fences or work together. Instead, she is full steam ahead against anything that she sees as “reform” and she insists on clinging to how things have been for kids in the past instead of how things need to be for them for the future.

But all is not rosy inside the organization over which she’s been re-elected to preside. There is great division within her own union over her combative style and uncompromising ideology. She barely won the election at the convention and if not for an arbitrary MTA rule, she likely would have found herself in the loser’s bracket.

If only.

Michael Jonas of Commonwealth Magazine describes it this way:

Madeloni’s victory was much closer than the numbers might suggest. MTA rules require a candidate to win more than 50 percent of all votes cast to be elected. Otherwise, the top two finishers in the first round of balloting go head-to-head in a runoff round. Madeloni won with 51 percent of the first-ballot votes.

Not only did nearly half the delegates support another candidate, both Anderson and Sullivan had voiced similar criticisms of Madeloni’s combative, uncompromising approach, and supporters of Sullivan, the third-place finisher, would likely have cast their votes for Anderson in a second round of voting.

But here’s the thing. Madeloni better be ready for the fight of her life because Massachusetts parents, teachers, businesses and even the Governor are committed to moving the needle for kids in meaningful ways. While MTA peddles in adult organized student walkouts,  pressures parents and students to opt-out of annual tests, and vilifies charter schools, the majority of folks in the Baystate aren’t falling for it.

In fact, at the moment, polls show there is more support to lift the charter cap than there is to keep it in place should it appear on the ballot in November. (50% in favor, 33% opposed, and 16% undecided.)

It’s too bad too because a bit of compromise and an attempt at good will could go a really long way for the kids of Massachusetts.

Come on Barbara, what do you say?

What do you think?

One thought on “Madeloni Win Is Not a Win for Students

  1. If you want to understand the significance of Scalia’s death; here is an example. If unions had to earn the dues of their members, not simply be entitled to them no matter how poorly they represent their members, you would see union leaders more open to compromise and consensus building.

    yes, teacher’s can vote for change, but like most people, the easier and more frequent voting is with your pocketbook.

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