All of us helped to defeat Question 2 by a landslide margin. Only 16 communities voted yes.
What accounted for this outstanding result? Although many factors contributed, I believe that the following were most critical:
1. The Campaign to Save Our Public Schools, the umbrella organization managing the campaign, had a credible, relevant and consistent message. This message stated clearly that passage of Question 2 would siphon much needed money from the district public schools.
2. Teachers, paraprofessionals, and all those working in the district public schools allied with the parents and students became articulate advocates because they could testify to the truth of the message.
3. The Campaign to Save Our Public Schools was an inclusive and broad based coalition. In addition to AFT MA and the MTA and their locals, other active participants were Citizens for Public Schools (CPS), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the AFL-CIO, various parent and student groups, and many others.
4. Those participating in phone banks, home canvassing, and one on one conversations numbered in the tens of thousands. Citizen participation enables democracy to work.
5. Our ads were highly focused. They conveyed the central message. The presence and voices of students, parents, and teachers in the ads were a tremendous plus.
6. Although the advocates for Question 2 outspent us by millions of dollars, we raised enough money to spread our message across the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
The challenge was great. The victory was great. I thank all of our members.
Challenges aplenty still face us.
President-Elect Trump has nominated Betsy DeVos to be Secretary of Education. If her history is any guide, she will not be a supporter of public education and will act to move money out of the public schools, to create new schools as an alternative to public schools, and to support currently existing non-public schools.
Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, has written an op ed piece, reproduced in this issue of The Advocate, which details the positions she has taken.
In 2018 it is likely that on the Massachusetts ballot will be a constitutional amendment to increase by 4% the state income tax on the portion of incomes more than $1,000,000. For example, if a person’s income is $1,300,000, then he/she will pay an additional $12,000 on state income tax.
The proposed constitutional amendment has passed the legislature and must do so once more to appear on the ballot. To go into effect a majority of those voting must give their assent in the 2018 election.
This campaign will be a splendid opportunity to fight for public education. We did so in defeating Question 2 and can do so in 2018.
If we stay as united and work as diligently, we shall be great contributors to the preservation and enhancement of public education and to the education of the hundreds of thousands of girls and boys in our public schools.
Have a superb 2017!
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