Massachusetts Teachers Association launches ad campaign
The Massachusetts Teachers Association is airing a 60-second radio advertisement focusing on the benefits of providing children with a well-rounded education. The ad, entitled "Declaration," began airing this morning on AM and FM stations in many of the state's media markets. Calling to mind public education's historic importance to American democracy, the spot features children talking about the need for public education not only to teach the "three Rs," but also to enrich students' lives by encouraging them to explore art and music and to stay healthy by participating in sports.
The ad calls for a sharing of responsibility to ensure that sufficient resources are devoted to the Commonwealth's public schools to help students succeed. It cites the need for smaller class sizes and for parental, community and government support of public education, noting: "We need the state to invest in the future of our schools."
"Providing high-quality education is a team effort," said MTA President Catherine A. Boudreau. "It requires the involvement of parents and communities, along with teachers and students. It also must be supported by an appropriate level of commitment from the state, which means the governor and the Legislature must do their fair share to provide the resources necessary for every student to succeed.
"Unfortunately, that has not happened," Boudreau continued. "Teachers are doing their part in preparing students to meet the demands of our changing economy. Our students rank first on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, score highly on the SATs, and excel by many other measures. But the time has come for those who talk so much about helping public education to back up their promises – to help ensure smaller class sizes and a well-rounded education for every child in our Commonwealth."
The numbers help tell the story underlying the MTA's ad:
- From fiscal year 2002 through fiscal year 2006, Chapter 70 education aid to municipalities and regional school districts declined by $465 million – 12 percent – after taking into account enrollment changes and projected inflation. A similar trend can be seen in the treatment of the Commonwealth's community colleges, state colleges, and University: From fiscal year 2001 through fiscal year 2006, appropriations for higher education declined by $334 million – 26 percent – after taking inflation into account.
- In fiscal year 2004, the Chapter 70 aid of three-quarters of the state's 328 operating districts was cut by as much as 20 percent. As of fiscal year 2006, over 60 percent of districts have yet to re-attain their pre-cut aid levels – even when inflation is not factored in.
- State reimbursements to school districts in some areas, along with many important grant programs, have been subjected to massive cuts since Gov. Mitt Romney took office in January of 2003. Non-regional pupil transportation reimbursement has been eliminated, a cut of $51.8 million; class-size reduction grants for low-income districts have been eliminated, a loss of $18 million; MCAS remediation grants have been slashed by $39.6 million, or 79 percent; early literacy programs have been cut by more than $14 million, or 79 percent; and school breakfast grants have been cut by almost $3.4 million, or 62 percent.
"Despite our public schools' many successes, they are facing far too much pressure to do more with less," Boudreau said. "Art, music and sports programs are all under the ax, and resources remain insufficient in many other areas. Our teachers are still buying the basic supplies their students need out of their own pockets while coping with outdated textbooks, aging technology, and other evidence that, too often, the rhetoric and the reality are far apart where public education is concerned."
The MTA radio spot is airing on stations in Greater Boston, Brockton, Fall River, New Bedford, Pittsfield, Springfield and Worcester, and on Cape Cod. The spot was produced by SS+K, an advertising and marketing firm with offices in Boston and other cities.
The Massachusetts Teachers Association represents more than 100,000 public education employees, including teachers, education support professionals, higher education faculty and staff, and future teachers.
CHILD 1: We, the children of Massachusetts,
CHILD 2: in order to create a more perfect education,
CHILD 3: need your help.
CHILD 4: We need smaller class sizes
CHILD 4: and a well-rounded education:
CHILD 5: Reading and writing, because they're the basis of communication.
CHILD 5: And with a good book you are never alone.
CHILD 3: Math, which helps us understand physics, astronomy...
CHILD 1: and where our allowance goes.
CHILD 5: And science, to learn about the world around us.
CHILD 2: Art, to show us that beauty really does come from within.
CHILD 6: And so our refrigerator doors are always decorated.
CHILD 3: Music classes to teach us to express ourselves.
CHILD 4: And so we sing outside the shower, too.
CHILD 5: And sports, because being active keeps you healthy.
CHILD 2: And most of all, we need everyone's support:
CHILD 3: our parents',
CHILD 6: our communities'
CHILD 4: and our government's.
CHILD 7: We need the state to invest in the future of our schools.
CHILD 6: A message from the children of Massachusetts.
CHILD 1: And the Massachusetts Teachers Association.