Since we’ve all had some good fun talking about how much charter school leaders make in Massachusetts, it got me curious about some other folks making some BIG BUCKS in education — and they don’t even set foot in a school.
To start off, I’m using the term "in education" very loosely. The Massachusetts Teachers Union is in business to advocate for its members and for their interests. Their members work in education, but even they admit, education is not their top priority. Take a look at their mission statement:
The Massachusetts Teachers Association is a member-driven organization, governed by democratic principles, that accepts and supports the interdependence of professionalism and unionism. The MTA promotes the use of its members’ collective power to advance their professional and economic interests. The MTA is committed to human and civil rights and advocates for quality public education in an environment in which lifelong learning and innovation flourish.
We don’t even talk about "quality public education" until we get to the third sentence. Let’s be real — the MTA is in the game to represent the interests of their members — the adults.
The MTA has spent a lot of time messaging around how "working conditions" are "learning conditions" and they’ve been pretty effective in running that scam. The problem is, again, their top priority is making sure these "working conditions" are optimal for adults — NOT children. Isn’t it time we all got clear on that?
So now to the subject at hand: I want to spend a moment patting myself on the back for this piece, because researching this information was like pulling teeth. For all of the whining and gnashing of teeth we get from the Massachusetts Teachers Association and others about transparency of charter schools or any other organization they just don’t like — they sure do a crap job of being transparent about what’s happening in their OWN house. Figuring out how much the MTA President brings home isn’t, you know — very TRANSPARENT. It’s not even evident in their 990 forms because of the way their policy and bylaws are structured.
(How did I know where to find this stuff? In full disclosure, I am a former union staffer who is intimately familiar with 990 reporting and have a vested pension I’ll receive when I reach retirement age from SEIU.)
How are they structured? According to the MTA policy book, the President of the MTA makes three times the salary of the average teacher according to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Why three times? No one seems to know. But three times it is. And that’s some serious cash.
According to the most recently available data (which for some reason is 2014-2015) the average teacher salary is $74,782.
Meaning Barbara Madeloni takes home $224,346.
But wait! There’s more.
Why doesn’t this information show up in the 990’s? Because the MTA policy has devised this sneaky little plan where the President AND the Vice President of the MTA are allowed to effectively get "pension credit" for their time spent "serving" in the MTA (aka, representing their own self-interest) so they can cash out when they retire.
How do they do it? Typically, the person who is elected President (and Vice President) of the MTA is paid one chunk of money directly from the union, and then another chunk from the school district where they have been granted a "leave of absence" for the length of their term. The MTA then reimburses the school district while allowing the union leader to rack up years of service to pad their retirement. How stupid can this get? Check out the mess in Chicago.
In the case of Barbara Madeloni of course, there is no reimbursement from UMass because she was fired from her position before being elected President of the MTA — only to negotiate a seriously bizarre and questionable sweetheart deal to maintain the appearance that she was still an educator to allow her to run for union president.Meaning, the MTA pays her completely out of pocket.
All of this to ask the question: When you give up your job as an educator to spend your career advocating for your own self-interest, you think we should be giving you pension credit for serving the children of the Commonwealth at the same time?
But wait! There’s more.
The MTA President gets all the fat, juicy benefits you’d imagine, plus one more flashy little perk!
If you live 50 miles away from the MTA headquarters, you also get to live in the MTA condo in the South End!
That’s right, the MTA pays over $40,000 to rent a condo in the South End for Barbara in addition to her $225k annual salary — so she can lecture all of us about "justice" and how she knows what’s best for our children better than we do.
In addition to the union president making some pretty sweet bank, check out the rest of the staff:
And here’s Boston:
Here are the folks just making serious cash to manage the BENEFITS:
So frankly, when we talk about how who is getting paid what to actually get things done for kids in our education system, let’s get real about who is really cashing in.
What do you think?