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Massachusetts

May 13, 2014

MTA Elects Anti-Common Core President as Opposition Increases


Staff Attorney Mike Donnelly answers questions and assists members regarding legal issues in Massachusetts. He and his wife homeschool. Read more >>

The Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA), a union that represents about 110,000 teachers in the Bay State, elected an anti-Common Core president on May 10 in a hotly contested and close election. Barbara Madeloni, a clinical psychologist turned teacher, beat a Brockton teacher by 681 to 584 votes. A proponent of local control, Madeloni opposes high stakes testing and nationalization of educational standards.

State Representative Keiko Orrall, a former public school teacher and homeschooling mom, who has been tirelessly hitting Common Core issues, welcomes Madeloni’s reinforcement in the fight. Orrall has filed numerous bills in the legislature to slow or stop Common Core. One of her bills demanded a cost benefit analysis from the commissioner of education, Mitchell Chester, chairman of the PARCC Commission which is developing the new test. The cost benefit analysis on changing assessments from the MCAS to PARCC passed the Democrat-controlled House.

Taking Notice

“This election is significant.” Orrall told HSLDA. “I welcome the MTA to the fight. Teachers are beginning to wake up and notice the attempted takeover of local control. A national approach is not the right direction. Students, teachers, homeschoolers—everyone should be concerned about this issue. This is an attempt to totally change the way we make decisions in education. I am committed to local control and will continue to give parents and teachers a voice pressing for transparency with this process. Massachusetts has the best-rated public education results in the country and it is not clear why we need to change. I also do not want the Common Core standards and the PARCC to interfere with the ability of homeschoolers to secure employment and access to higher education.”

Many homeschoolers oppose the Common Core for this very reason—it has the potential to create significant barriers to homeschooled graduates in getting jobs and college acceptance. The implementation system which has grown up around the Common Core includes standards, data collection, and assessments: it lays out a cradle-to-grave education process that would grant college- and career-ready status to public school students who go through it.

Mounting Difficulties

Already, in some cases homeschoolers who lack a publically issued graduation credential have encountered difficulty with gaining employment or college acceptance. HSLDA recently reported on a highly qualified homeschool graduate in Ohio whose job offer was revoked when NiSoure, an energy company headquartered in Indiana found out he was homeschooled. This is precisely what many homeschoolers expect would happen as the Common Core is institutionalized around the country and why we have actively opposed the standards’ implementation.

When two of the largest teachers’ unions in two of the most progressive states are joining homeschooling advocates to oppose Common Core, policy makers should take note! While the two groups may hold divergent views on how and where children should be educated, they both seem to agree that the nationalization of education is bad for everyone.

While the battle against Common Core continues to pick up steam, advocates of nationalizing education are unlikely to give up. For example, in an April 25 Washington Post article, Lindsey Layton reported on the Department of Education writing rules to create a national teacher certification program.

Although federal law prohibits the national government from having anything to do with curriculum or instruction in education, where there is a will, there is a way. Advocates of local control and opponents of increasing nationalization will have to stay alert for these and other attempts to centralize control the education of children.

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