The state’s largest teachers union has struck a deal in which it would give up significant seniority rights for members in exchange for a commitment from an education reform group to withdraw a far more sweeping ballot initiative proposal.
Paul Toner, the president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, confirmed today his group has been meeting with Beacon Hill legislative leaders to brief them on the deal and present them with a draft bill that would curb the influence of seniority in the placement and firing of teachers.
The MTA’s move comes after weeks of negotiations with a group called Stand for Children/ Massachusetts, which is collecting voter signatures in effort to get its reform plan on the November ballot.
“All along we have been trying to avoid a divisive ballot initiative,’’ said Toner. “We don’t think broad complex issues that are included in the initiative should be decided by a yes or no vote at the ballot box. A long, complicated ballot question is not something a voter should have to digest in a matter of moments in the voting booth.’’On behalf of easily-befuddled voters across the Commonwealth, let me be the first to thank Mr. Toner and the MTA for looking out for us.
Then again... coming as it does a mere two days after the good voters of fellow Blue States Wisconsin and California dealt public employee union bosses their biggest polling place set-backs in recent memory, it is at least possible that this move by the MTA is motivated by something other than Mr. Toner's stated concern.
Maybe - just maybe - the MTA isn't worried so much about the possibility that we silly voters won't understand the pending education reform ballot initiative, as they are terrified of the possibility that we will understand perfectly well.
Check out Stand With Children's website for yourself. Pretty straightforward stuff, it seems to me. I'll bet it seems that way to the MTA too; which is precisely why the union bosses are so anxious to cut a negotiated deal and avoid the kind of voter judgement of their positions and their agenda that the unions in California and Wisconsin suffered this week.
Addendum: Whenever touching upon the caustic effect of teachers unions on education in this country, I feel remiss if I do not again recommend Waiting for Superman. If you care enough about education to have read this post, then it is a must-see.