Charting common ground

National Teacher of the Year Sydney Chaffee is going to need that sabbatical that comes with the honor.

The Codman Academy educator, the first Bay State teacher to win the award and the first public charter school teacher to be recognized as the top classroom instructor in the country, has become the unwitting eye of the storm over the charter school debate.

In case you missed it, CommonWealth‘s Michael Jonas first reported last week that the Massachusetts Teachers Association voted down a simple resolution from a longtime member to congratulate Chaffee for the honor. The reason was obvious: The Dorchester teacher represents all that the union has fought against, culminating in the tong war that was Question 2 on last November’s ballot to lift the cap on charter schools in the state. Cue the thunder.

The teachers association and its most ardent supporters have dug in their heels, much of it in the way of anonymous online comments, saying they had no obligation to recognize a nonmember, especially someone who threatens their livelihood. But that’s where many point out the union and its strident leader, Barbara Madeloni, miss the boat.

Charters may be the threat, they acknowledge, but Chaffee is not. Good teachers are good teachers, say critics of the union’s move, and those who have children’s best interests can learn from each other outside the political debate. Sticking your fingers in your ears and chanting “Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah,” is not a good optic.

While the storm swirls around Chaffee, who has smartly declined public comment on the contretemps, it has also revealed some unlikely common thought, if not necessarily alliances. The union decision predictably drew the ire of outlets such as the uber-conservative National Review, which took the position that the teachers association was just reinforcing the stereotype of organized labor rather than enlightened educators.

The decision also was met with raspberries locally as both the Boston Herald and the Boston Globe, not often in tune with one another, found common ground.

“The MTA made a statement, but it was a dumb statement,” the Boston Globe‘s Adrian Walker, a charter school proponent, wrote. “A teachers union that doesn’t care about great teaching is just another interest group. Think bigger, MTA.”

The union also encountered withering criticism from longtime supporters who berated the leadership’s tone-deaf stance. Even those who support or at least understand the association’s stance on charters think the focus on an individual who delivers outstanding performance in what is inarguably the prime directive for a teacher is resonating like fingernails on a chalk board.

Jim Braude, a longtime liberal advocate and ally of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, is the latest to pile onto the union, calling the snub a “total embarrassment” and “indefensible.”

“The MTA could not look more petty and nasty,” Braude, who once won the organization’s President’s Award, opined on Greater Boston. “It is a bare-knuckle snubbing of an exemplary teacher.”

–JACK SULLIVAN


BEACON HILL

A Herald editorial says it’s time for belt-tightening on Beacon Hill, not pushing all sorts of unaffordable capital projects like studies looking at rail service between Springfield and Boston or Pittsfield and New York.

The Globe delves back into the business dealings of former state rep Garrett Bradley and the often blurry line the paper says existed between his private interests and public actions.

Barnstable County will seek legislative approval to offer early retirement incentives to reduce its workforce, or face layoffs, after the regional government’s budget was cut by $1 million amidst increases in health insurance costs. (Cape Cod Times)

Treasurer Deborah Goldberg wants to overhaul the state’s patchwork of alcohol laws, but public health advocates worry that changes could lead to higher rates of alcohol-related problems. (Boston Globe)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Leaders of a gun buyback program in Natick were forced to remove Facebook posts promoting the event after the social media site determined the posts violated its standards prohibiting “attempts by private individuals to purchase, sell, or trade” drugs or firearms. (MetroWest Daily News)

St. John’s Prep refused to make an in-lieu-of-tax-payment to its hometown of Danvers. (Salem News)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

President Trump will pull out of the Paris climate change agreement, according to reports this morning, a move that goes against the urgings of his secretary of state, daughter, top US corporate leaders, European allies — and the pope. (Politico)

US Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy, in a wide-ranging interview,  said he thinks there’s a “credible case” to be made that Trump obstructed justice when he fired James Comey as director of the FBI. (Greater Boston)

White House communications director Michael Dubke has resigned for “personal reasons” as Trump considers a bigger staff shake-up with the administration lurching from crisis to crisis. (New York Times)

Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen has refused requests to testify before House and Senate committees probing Russia’s alleged meddling in the presidential elections, triggering a vote to grant the chairmen subpoena power. (U.S. News & World Report)

“Covfefe?” Bqhatevwr. (New York Times)

Today’s Globe op-ed page is a triple whammy Trump assault, with Rene Graham calling the president’s tweet denouncing the hate-fueled killings in Portland too little, too late, Scot Lehigh dissecting the utter disaster that he says was Trump’s first overseas trip, and, for good measure, a Dan Wasserman cartoon sandwiched between them that depicts a hapless White House under siege.

A Haitian immigrant in Brockton will be allowed to get his high school diploma before being deported after the Trump administration extended emergency visas for six months for those who fled the island from a devastating earthquake in 2010. (The Enterprise)

ELECTIONS

A MassINC Polling Group analysis says a report that Charlie Baker is aiming to capture nearly a third of the Democratic vote in a reelection race next year could mean a swing to the left for the Republican governor.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Sen. Adam Hinds and Dan Hodge say western Massachusetts needs its own regional economic development plan. (CommonWealth)

Sadly, this does qualify as big news: Plans were unveiled for a new building in the Seaport that actually is not another cookie-cutter formed, drab glass box. (Boston Globe)

The Oak Bluffs Board of Selectmen voted to grant operating permits to the town’s three moped rental businesses after a judge ordered officials to issue waivers from the island town’s bylaw requiring private training tracks rather than the decades-old tradition of allowing customers to test them on public roads. (Cape Cod Times)

EDUCATION

Shirley Leung faults the state’s public universities for their all-male cast of presidents. (Boston Globe)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

A Supreme Judicial Court ruling will make it easier for some seniors to qualify for MassHealth nursing home benefits even if they own their home. (Boston Globe)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The coal-fired Brayton Point power plant in Somerset, long cited as one of the worst polluters in the region,  will officially shut down tonight and be permanently retired. (Herald News) Steve Dodge of the Massachusetts Petroleum Institute says the closing means the state needs more natural gas pipeline capacity. (CommonWealth)

Last summer’s drought meant much cleaner beaches in the Boston area. (Boston Globe)

State warning: Beware of bears. (Boston Herald)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

More than 30 members of a major fentanyl drug ring in Lawrence were arrested. Many of those arrested were in the country illegally. (State House News) Howie Carr says the bust proves the governors of Maine and New Hampshire were right when they pointed the finger at the Lawrence as the source of drug problems in the region. (Boston Herald)

The number of non-criminals arrested in New England by Immigration and Customs Enforcement triples. (WBUR)

The defense in the trial of Michael McCarthy, charged with killing 2-year-old Bella Bond, says the person responsible for killing her was her own mother, Rachelle Bond, who is set to testify against him. (Boston Globe)

The US Supreme Court suspended and was threatening to disbar the incoming president of the Massachusetts Bar Association in what turns out to be a case of mistaken identity. (Associated Press)

For the third time since a Department of Correction detox unit opened in Myles Standish Forest in Plymouth last month, patients committed to the facility by judges escaped from the minimum security complex. (Patriot Ledger)

MEDIA

Scott Pelley is reportedly out at CBS News but will continue working with 60 Minutes. (New York Post)