Celebrating Our Paraprofessionals

Wednesday, April 7 is Paraprofessional Appreciation Day, a national day when we celebrate our paraprofessionals and highlight the contributions of paraprofessionals to their students and schools. Over the last year, paraprofessionals have gone above and beyond to meet the needs of students and support the work of our schools under incredibly challenging circumstances.
 
“The past year would not have been possible without our paraprofessionals – period. When schools closed a year ago, paras stepped up to make sure students received food, help with technology, and the other resources necessary to create a safe learning environment at home,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. “This school year, paraprofessionals dealt with ever-changing job descriptions as they worked to support students in remote, hybrid, and in-person learning models. As we work to safely return more students to full-time in-person learning, paras are at the front lines, ensuring that students stay safe and receive the academic, emotional, and social support they need to get back on track.”
 

The American Rescue Plan is Now the Law

On March 10, President Biden signed the hugely important and broadly popular American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion bill designed to help working families and those Americans hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. More than 70 percent of Americans—including majorities of Republicans, Democrats and Independents—support the American Rescue Plan. 

Passage of this bill wasn’t a sure thing. Your senators needed to hear from you about how important it was to have a coronavirus rescue and economic stimulus plan that helped working families—not another giveaway to Fortune 500 companies and the mega-rich. Your senators needed their constituents to let them know that the real danger wasn’t the price tag, but in passing a bill that was too small. 

The US House Passes the PRO Act to Support Workers’ Right to Organize

The ability of working people to join together to collectively bargain for fair pay and working conditions is a fundamental right. When working people join a union, they have a voice on the job and the ability to collectively bargain for wages, benefits, and working conditions. Unions are crucial in fostering a vibrant middle class and reducing income inequality. When unions are strong, they set wage standards for entire industries and occupations, they make wages more equal within occupations, and they help close racial and gender wage gaps.

“Over the last year, we’ve seen clearly just how important unions are for working people. By joining together through our union, we can win safer working conditions, earn better pay and benefits, and advocate together for public policy changes that we would never get on our own,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. “We also know that when more workers have a strong union, it improves wages, benefits, and working conditions for all workers because even non-unionized employers must compete to attract qualified employees. But after years of attacks on union rights, millions of private-sector workers face significant obstacles when they want to join a union. The PRO Act would change that, allowing millions of workers to organize and bargain for their collective rights.”

Report a COVID-19 Case or Unsafe Working Conditions in Your School or Library

School employees and public librarians are doing what they always do: taking care of their students and communities. But no matter where you are in Massachusetts or what your district's reopening plan looks like, everyone deserves to feel safe at work.
 
This tracker is brought to you by the American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts (AFT Massachusetts) & Massachusetts Teachers Association.
 
Help us hold local and state leaders accountable. Report a COVID-19 case or unsafe working conditions in your school or district with our easy-to-use tool.