Inside MSEA: Thank You, Betty

Outgoing MSEA President Betty Weller has understood the power of our voices.

Six years ago, when you elected Betty Weller to lead MSEA, our public schools were feeling the brunt of the recession. School employment levels were at post-recession lows and many school systems were freezing step movement and salary levels. These post-recession years have been characterized by flat state and local funding, making the work of the Kirwan Commission essential.

Yet as fiscally challenging as these years have been, under Betty’s leadership, MSEA membership is at an all-time high. During these six years, we’ve focused on what is important to our membership and we’ve accomplished some big things. We passed legislation to limit standardized testing. We passed bills and led the fight to successfully defend our schools against the frightening Betsy DeVos privatization/pro-charter agenda. We passed the Fix the Fund Act to make sure that casino revenues go where they’re supposed to: our classrooms. We helped lead the efforts to pass the Dream Act and marriage equality. We supported locals in organizing campaigns that won better contracts and working conditions.

Throughout these efforts, Betty has understood the power of our voices. And whether at statewide marches or General Assembly committee hearings, she took delight in turning the microphone over to our members and local leaders.

We are stronger now because of Betty’s work. Thanks to the Kirwan Commission, we are poised to increase school funding — and increase salaries, create a living wage for ESP, and give every student the school they deserve.

As Betty passes the torch, it’s on us to keep the momentum going strong especially as anti-union campaigns gear up across the country in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Janus case.

Let’s get to work now by campaigning for legislators who will prioritize improving school funding and then, just as importantly, hold them accountable. And let’s keep organizing locally for great contracts and a strong membership to enforce and improve them.

I am confident that our relentless focus on member priorities, along with our dedication to elevate our members’ voices, will ensure our continued success. Together we are capable of doing all those things and more, and we are in a better position to do so because of Betty’s time leading MSEA.