Massachusetts Public Schools Initiative (2012)
|Not on Ballot|
| This measure did not or |
will not appear on a ballot
Specifically, the measure would have made performance the main factor in deciding whether or not to retain teachers, effectively eliminating tenure. Additionally, the proposal required the implementation of a process of evaluating teachers across the state. Sponsors of the measure stated that their efforts were to increase teacher quality. However, opponents countered that the proposal was too complicated for a single ballot question.
The following is information obtained from the supporting side of the measure:
- Stand For Children Executive Director Jason Williams stated at the time that the statewide ballot proposal would "ensure that every child in every classroom across the Commonwealth is being led by an excellent teacher."
The following is information obtained from the opposing side of the measure:
- Paul Toner, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, who filed a lawsuit against the measure: “This is not a simple yes or no ballot question, like asking whether you should pay an extra nickel on a bottle return. There are so many moving parts to this initiative that no voter will be able to understand it in a short period of time."
- According to Richard Hebert, a Scituate School Committee member: "I believe in local decision-making. I believe in letting towns and their teachers hammer out the guidelines for reducing staff. This one-size-fits-all approach is dangerous and simplistic and infringes on the autonomy of towns and ignores the special circumstances each community faces."
|2012 measure lawsuits|
| Arizona • Arkansas • Colorado • Florida • Maryland |
Michigan • Massachusetts • Minnesota
Missouri • Montana • Nevada
North Dakota • Ohio • Oklahoma
Oregon • Rhode Island
|By lawsuit type|
|Ballot text |
Motivation of sponsors
- Tom Gosnell, president of the state chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, stated at the time that the legislation could do more harm than good, stating: "What is important is to have in place an excellent evaluation system. If we have in place an excellent evaluation system, of the issues that Stand raises, 99 percent will be taken care of, and we're committed to having it in place. [If the measure passes] it will throw a monkey wrench into the system. It would cause chaos and confusion."
- See also: List of ballot measure lawsuits in 2012
Flynn, et al. v. Martha Coakley and William F. Galvin
A lawsuit, submitted by the Massachusetts Teachers Association with the Massachusetts Supreme Court, was filed on January 21, 2012 against the proposal. The lawsuit complained that the proposal was in violation of the state constitution because it dealt with too many components that are unrelated. The legal challenge would void Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley's circulation certification, and therefore would not allow Massachusetts Secretary of State William F. Galvin to place it on the ballot.
Brad Puffer, a spokesman for the attorney general, stated about the lawsuit and the initiative certification process: "We make our decision to certify ballot initiatives based purely on the facts and the law and without regard to the attorney general’s policy view on the issue. As we do with all petition decisions we work cooperatively with parties who wish to challenge our rulings. The most important thing is to get the right result."
Path to the ballot
In Massachusetts, each of the ten original signers of the proposed measure must obtain certificates of voter registration from the board of registrars or election commission in the city or town where they are registered voters. The certificate of voter registration must be signed by at least three registrars. These certificates and the original petition must then be submitted to the Massachusetts Attorney General.
Once the petition is found acceptable, the Attorney general will prepare a summary and return it and the petition to the petitioners, who must file the petition and summary with the Massachusetts Secretary of State. Once that is submitted, petitions are printed and circulation can begin.
Circulation and submission
Backers needed to collect 68,911 signatures by November 23, 2011 and needed to turn them into local registrars. Signatures were filed by that deadline, according to reports, by supporters. Validated signatures were then returned to supporters, who had until the December 7, 2011 petition drive deadline to turn those signatures in to the Massachusetts Secretary of State's office. Supporters turned in those signatures by the deadline.
Second signature gathering phase
The Massachusetts AFL-CIO and the Massachusetts chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, who were opponents of the legislative compromise, dropped their opposition on June 20, 2012, lending a potentially easier enactment of the bill, according to reports.
On June 21, 2012, the Massachusetts State Senate passed the compromise bill, sending it to be considered by the Massachusetts House of Representatives to be considered. Reports stated that the measure was not placed on the ballot, but it was unclear if a compromise bill was reached.
- Massachusetts 2012 ballot measures
- 2012 ballot measures
- List of Massachusetts ballot measures
- Laws governing the initiative process in Massachusetts
- Massachusetts Secretary of State, "Current Petitions Filed," accessed August 8, 2011
- Boston.com, "Teachers union taking ballot question to court," January 21, 2012
- South Coast Today, "Challenge to teacher seniority headed toward the ballot," April 23, 2012
- Berkshire Eagle, "Mass. teachers sue to stop ballot question," January 23, 2011
- Mass Live, "4 proposed ballot laws could go to Massachusetts voters in November," December 4, 2011
- Mass Live, "Secretary of State William Galvin to file statewide ballot questions proposing 'death with dignity,' medical marijuana and teacher evaulations," January 3, 2011
- Boston Herald, "Teachers union opposes ‘extreme’ ballot question deal," June 8, 2012
- Mass Live, "Both sides criticize same-sex marriage wording," June 15, 2012
- Barnstable-Hyannis Patch, "Three, Possibly Four, Initiatives Likely to Make Fall Ballot," June 15, 2012
- Boston.com, "2 Mass. unions drop opposition to teachers bill," June 20, 2012
- The Republic, "Mass. Senate approves compromise bill placing performance over seniority in teacher layoffs," June 21, 2012