MTA snub of teacher of the year exposes questionable agenda (Editorial)

Date Published: 
June 2, 2017
The Republican Editorials

Above all else, and for all the challenges they face, teachers should be expected to be for the kids.

The Massachusetts Teachers Association claims such lofty ideals, butits snub of Sydney Chaffee reveals a much different agenda, and one that should embarrass the state's largest union of educators.

Chaffee teaches ninth grade English and social studies at Codman Academy Charter Public School in Dorchester, where she also lives. She is the first national teacher of the year from Massachusetts in 65 years of existence for the award, which is administered by the Council of Chief State School Officers.


That wasn't enough for Chaffee to merit even a cordial shout-out from the MTA, whose delegates voted against formally congratulating and recognizing her work. This was not an oversight, it was a snub and a selfish, self-serving one at that.

The CCSSO is a nationwide and a non-partisan organization of public officials. That's more than the MTA can claim.

Chaffee's egregious flaws apparently begin and end with the fact she teaches in a charter school. Such schools are non-union and Chaffee does not belong to the MTA.

The MTA's decision was small-minded and political, and exhibits an insecurity that is not in keeping with its status as a voice for children. The union lobbied successfully against the expansion of charter schools in a 2016 referendum voted, but regardless of anyone's opinions on that issue, Chaffee's decade of work indicates a dedication to teaching and success in this crucial field.

To recognize that would have cost nothing and not changed the charter debate. The MTA instead chose the low road.

When did dedication to teaching stop being enough for the Massachusetts Teachers Association? The union's obsessive campaign against charter schools indicates its desire for a monopoly on education - and even if the MTA is justified in this debatable stance, that does not explain or excuse purposely snubbing a talented educator.

The MTA can serve as both a representative for its union members and a voice for education. Its leaders say it does both. The reaction to Chaffee's award, which should be a source of pride to anyone in Massachusetts who values education, tells a different message.

This was not about the Trump Administration's avowed support of charter schools. It was not about whether Massachusetts needs more of them. It was not about union versus non-union.

It was a simple recognition of dedicated teaching service over a period of years in a city school. When that stops being good enough for the Massachusetts Teachers Association, it's time ask who the organization really puts first, and whether its viewpoints should be viewed through a purely political and not an educational lens.