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UMass Faculty Member Runs for President of the MTA

By Dan Clawson, Department of Sociology, UMass Amherst


An effort is underway to dramatically change the MTA by electing a new president and supporting new policies.  The candidate leading this effort is Barbara Madeloni, a faculty member at UMass Amherst. Barbara is an impressive figure, and she is part of a larger movement, Educators for a Democratic Union, that includes K-12 teachers across the state.

In addition to our campus unions, faculty members at UMass Amherst and UMass Boston are also part of a statewide union, the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA), with 113,000 members, including local colleagues in the Classified Staff Union and Professional Staff Union. The MTA has the potential to be an incredibly powerful force in education and in politics more generally:  our members are in just about every city and town, teachers are widely respected, and the MTA has a forty million dollar per year budget.

In the past dozen years, however, the MTA has not been a leading voice opposing the assault on higher education and on education more generally.  Instead of growing an engaged membership to resist the attacks on public education and offering a strong vision, it has tried to limit the damage from one or another assault through compromise.  During this time state appropriations have been reduced (substantially), tuition and fees have gone up, students have taken on more debt, and the number of administrators (and their pay) has increased.

Barbara Madeloni wants to make the MTA a leader in refuting attacks on public education and articulating and fighting for a vision of high quality, low cost public higher education. In order to accomplish these goals, she is looking to involve members and allies in building coalitions around a shared commitment to the public good.

Barbara Madeloni was born and raised on Long Island, the seventh of thirteen children, and received a Doctor of Psychology degree.  She practiced as a psychotherapist for fifteen years before deciding she needed to be a teacher to address the social and political issues that mattered to her.  After getting a Master of Education degree from UMass/Amherst, she taught high school English at Frontier Regional and in Northampton, and then joined the UMass Secondary Teacher Education faculty where she taught for nine years.

The MTA president is not elected by a vote of the full membership, but rather by a vote of the delegates to the May Annual Meeting.  Barbara has been going around the state, meeting with union boards, and even more so with rank-and-file members, to hear their concerns and their dreams, and to work together to transform the MTA.  Her opponent is Tim Sullivan, the sitting vice-president of the MTA, who had expected to run unopposed. 

Dan Clawson is a sociology professor at UMass Amherst and serves as the MTA board member representing the UMass Amherst Massachusetts Society of Professors and the UMass Boston Faculty Staff Union. 

To learn more about Barbara Madeloni and Educators for a Democratic Union, visit: