Standing Strong in Massachusetts: Great Teachers Great Schools Success+Share
Earlier this month, Stand for Children Massachusetts’ Great Teachers Great Schools campaign led to the passage of S. 2315 which will ensure teacher performance is the primary factor in staffing decisions in every public school in Massachusetts.
This significant step forward for students, parents, and teachers came about because of the tireless efforts of parents and teachers across the Commonwealth and the generosity of supporters who share our deep commitment to closing Massachusetts’ unjust and unacceptable achievement gap.
a problem for students
In several schools across Massachusetts, many students have been suffering as staffing rules deprive them of committed, skilled teachers. STAND parent member Juli Brazile recalls, “a couple years ago in Arlington we had a tight school budget…when the high school students found out that some of their favorite teachers who were bringing so much energy and enthusiasm to the classroom were at risk for being laid off, about a hundred students came to a board of selectmen meeting one evening. It was very hard to have to explain to the students that the rules were more about the teacher contract than about the teachers in the classroom.” Watch more of Juli’s story here.
Because we weren’t willing to wait several years to address this problem, last fall, STAND Massachusetts collected more than 100,000 signatures for a ballot initiative that would be voted on in November 2012.
A MEANINGFUL COMPROMISE
“While we felt confident in the passage of this initiative with 85% of voters in support of the measure, we had an opportunity to work with the Massachusetts Teachers Association to draft strong legislation that would serve the best interests of students, while also enabling us to avoid a costly, divisive election battle,” said Stand for Children Massachusetts Executive Director Jason Williams, a former teacher, first generation college graduate, and native of Fall River, Mass.
Nicole Costello, Stand for Children member and public school teacher in Winchester, put it this way:
“I am proud to be involved with Stand for Children because they were bold enough to stand up for an issue that has been going on for far too long, and, most importantly, they were willing to compromise in order to do what is best for teachers and ultimately children.”
Nicole and other Stand members share their stories here.
A Celebrated Solution
Public support for the compromise legislation came from many notable sources. Barry Bluestone, a well known economist and son of a progressive labor leader, wrote an opinion piece in the Boston Globe praising the Massachusetts Teachers Association for working with STAND Massachusetts on the legislation:
“Building coalitions with parents, students and other community organizations will help restore the alliance of progressive forces in the Commonwealth and help reconstitute popular support for public unions.”
Additionally, the Boston Globe editorialized that,
“Job performance should trump seniority, pure and simple. And the sooner it happens, the stronger the state’s classrooms will be. The compromise legislation…codifies teacher performance as the primary factor in school staffing decisions. On balance, that’s a triumph.”
We thank Governor Deval Patrick, the Massachusetts State Legislature, and most importantly, the thousands of parents across Massachusetts who worked with us to pass this important law. Stand for Children Massachusetts will continue to pursue our goal that drives our public education agenda – to have vibrant schools that foster high levels of student performance and engage the entire educational community, including teachers, principals, parents and schools boards, to work toward this goal on behalf of all children.