Legislative Political Action Team News

 

The Mass Teachers Association has created the Legislative Political Action Team (LPAT) program to give us a voice in legislative matters that impact our profession. “The LPAT is an organized activist group within the organization for teachers, ESP, and retired members to coordinate grassroots member to member organizing across the Association, educate members about MTA’s legislative and political agenda, connect members to each other and lobby legislators.” Each LPAT will have a coordinator and, ideally, each local education association will be represented by one Political Action Leader (PAL). The LPAT members are to serve as one to one communicators between all MTA members in a senate district and their senator and representatives.

 

I have been appointed as the PAL for the MDEA by the association president and am expected to be the point person for 1:1 communication, member education, and state political action of our association. I will be responsible for developing member-to-member worksite based communication networks covering all buildings and departments.

 

I have written this short news item in anticipation of the face-to-face conversations I will be having to ensure that our local association members are fully informed and brought into the discussion about the key challenges we face and hopefully work to coordinate our local mobilization response when necessary

 

The Mohawk District Education Association is in an LPAT coordinated by Nancy Stenberg, librarian at West Springfield High School. She is responsible for organizing the activities of 23 potential PALs representing associations in Stan Rosenberg’s senate district and the six separate representative districts that overlap it. At present there are four MTA members who have stepped forward to assume the roles of PALs on this team. Amherst, Union 38, UMass and Mohawk have representatives.

 

On Monday, April 30, Nancy organized a conference call with Senator Rosenberg. PALs from her team were invited to participate. Nancy shared three items of concern with the senator: 1. An introduction to the concept of the LPAT and which districts were on board with members on the team. 2. A call to attention about the MTAs “Letter to the Legislature” regarding the upcoming Stand for Children ballot initiative that will have serious impacts on the newly agreed upon teacher evaluation process. 3. A call to attention on Senate Bill 1416: An Act to Invest in Our Communities, that is entering the preliminary stages of consideration by the state senate.

 

Senator Rosenberg gratefully acknowledged the creation of the LPAT process and was happy to discuss the two legislative items. He was aware that a suit has been brought against Secretary of State Martha Coakley for having accepted the legislative petition of the creators of the Stand for Children ballot initiative. He said he’d read the Letter to the Legislature in which the MTA and other state organizations are asking state legislators not only to reject the proposal to put the S.f.C. initiative on the ballot but to urge the proponents to withdraw the initiative and support the implementation of the state’s new teacher evaluation process.

 

The senator stated plainly that he would vote to reject the proposal if it was presented to his chamber of the legislature. He expressed his doubt that it would get that far. He felt that the issue would be resolved prior to that step.

 

In response to the “Act to Invest” the senator advised that the MTA needed to see this as a long-term process and called attention to the work of Jay Gonzalez, chair of the state’s Tax Expenditure Commission, who is looking at many large out-dated tax breaks as targets for changing the revenue structure. The senator agrees in principle with the A.t.I. but felt that before trying to pass a tax-raising initiative in the legislature the better approach would be to seek the needed money through eliminating some of these out-dated tax breaks.

 

Senator Rosenberg’s statements and voting record mark him as a friend of education in Massachusetts. Supporting the work of such a strong ally is essential in making certain our voices continue to be heard in state government.

 

I look forward to the challenge and the chance to work with all of you. Please make your individual concerns known. I can be reached at plussier@whitneyacres.com.