MTA Vice President Deb McCarthy

deb mccarthy

Deb McCarthy, vice president of the 117,000-member Massachusetts Teachers Association, is a public education activist who has long worked to strengthen alliances that build strong communities.

McCarthy, a fifth-grade teacher at the Lillian M. Jacobs Elementary School, was elected to serve as MTA vice president in May of 2022 and again in April of 2024. She has taught in the Hull Public Schools for 25 years.

Over more than two decades, McCarthy has taken on a variety of elected leadership roles in her local union, the Hull Teachers Association, including president and vice president. She also has served on the MTA Board of Directors, as chair of the MTA Government Relations Committee, as an MTA Political Action Leader, and as a Massachusetts NEA Director.

McCarthy’s roots in activism are deep. As HTA president for 12 years, she brought open bargaining — a transparent approach to winning contract campaigns that encourages rank-and-file member participation at every step — to her local.

“It was transformational and a model of inclusivity and democracy. Everyone feels like they have a seat at the table,” she said. “Rather than members asking what the union can do for them, our members understand that they are the union and they work as a collective for the learning conditions that our students and community deserve. Educators’ working conditions are our students’ learning conditions.”

McCarthy was brought to union activism because of her commitment to public education. She is passionate about fighting austerity budgets and the ongoing attempts to privatize public education.

As a unionist, she remains focused on working with parents and students in the fight against high-stakes standardized testing, as she has done for a decade. McCarthy was a “conscientious objector,” refusing to administer the MCAS tests for two years.

McCarthy also played a key role in forming the South Shore Education Justice Alliance — a coalition of educators, parents and community members that seeks to address issues ranging from school infrastructure to smaller class sizes. The coalition — a table that is part of the Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance — played a crucial role in helping to defeat the Question 2 charter school expansion initiative, in advocating for passage of the Student Opportunity Act, and in building support for the Fair Share Amendment.

As MTA vice president, McCarthy will continue to fight for fully funding public schools and colleges, for wraparound services, for teaching the whole child, for a living wage for Education Support Professionals and adjunct faculty members, for the right to strike for public employees, and for educators’ professional autonomy.

McCarthy is a resident of Hull. All of McCarthy’s four children and three of her seven grandchildren have attended or currently attend the Hull Public Schools. And she comes from a family of educators. Her mother was also a Hull educator. Currently, McCarthy’s sister, daughter and daughter-in-law are educators.