author_name @bio_paul_f_toner

Paul F. Toner, president of the 107,000-member Massachusetts Teachers Association, is a strong voice for educators and students and a proud public school parent.

Toner, a middle school social studies teacher, lawyer and former president of the Cambridge Teachers Association, was elected MTA president in 2010 after serving for four years as the association's vice president.

He serves as chair of MassPartners for Public Schools, a coalition of organizations representing superintendents, principals, teachers' unions, and parents, and he is active in the Teacher Union Reform Network, a national group that has sought to develop and share teacher-led school improvement practices at the local level. Toner served on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education's Task Force on the Evaluation of Teachers and Administrators, Task Force on 21st Century Skills and Task Force on Closing the Proficiency Gap. He also was a participant in Governor Deval Patrick's Readiness Project. Toner is a commissioner on the Massachusetts Group Insurance Commission and a member of the state Board of Higher Education. He is also a labor delegate to the Democratic State Committee and a member of the DSC Executive Committee.

He is a strong supporter of the Campaign for Our Communities.

"We need a fair tax system that provides enough revenue to sustain high-quality public schools and colleges for our students and to ensure a good quality of life for everyone in our communities," Toner says. "I say that both as the president of a union that has helped make Massachusetts students number one in the nation and as a parent of two young children."

Toner lives in Cambridge with his wife, Susan, and their children, Grace and Jack.

Postings by: Paul F. Toner

Homeless Children - Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Earlier this month, State Auditor Suzanne Bump released a report on the costs that the Commonwealth's cities and towns incur busing homeless children to school. Massachusetts participates in a federal program that requires cities and towns to share the costs of transporting homeless children to school if the child is forced to relocate to different community for temporary housing. However, cities and town are not given any money by the state for these transportation costs, and the costs are not trivial.

Springfield spent over half a million dollars transporting homeless children, while Boston spent almost three quarters of a million dollars. Even a smaller community like Weymouth spent over $200,000.

Making sure that homeless children get to school is critically important. These children are experiencing terrible disruption in their lives, and school may be the one source of stability for them. In addition, they need their education more than ever. No one begrudges the money spent busing these children to school.

And yet, the legislature is being squeezed from every direction, and simply cannot find the money to supplement these transportation costs without cutting some other critical service. In the meantime, cities and towns are also squeezed. General local aid has been cut over 30% in the past four years, so local communities struggle mightily to fund these costs.

All of our elected officials - at the state and local level - are put in a terrible bind by the constant, unrelenting pressure of inadequate revenues. Even worse, homeless children end up in the middle of it.

We can do better than this. It is in all of our best interests that homeless children get to school, and that when they arrive that their schools are adequately funded. The solution to this problem isn't more budget cuts. It's tax reform that raises substantial revenue while protecting lower and middle income families from big increases.

I Believe In Our Commonwealth

I was born and raised in Massachusetts, and now my kids are growing up here.