#AFTVoices Member Benefits Spotlight Series

#AFTVoices is proud to present, Jezabel Muhammad!

This series aims to uplift the voices, members, staff, educators and paraprofessionals that make up AFT Massachusetts. This week we're highlighting Jezabel, a member organizer and small group paraprofessional with New Bedford Public Schools! Eager to get back into the classroom, Jezabel is driven to support the entire classroom to succeed.

Students Need Support, Staffing, and Resources, Not High-Stakes Standardized Testing, to Address the Effects of the Pandemic and Poverty

The MCAS test, highly correlated with student socioeconomic status, has always been a flawed and unreliable measure of both student learning and school quality. This was never truer than last school year, when the MCAS was administered in a haphazard manner during a global pandemic that exposed and amplified deep social and educational inequities.

Educators don’t need a standardized test to know that our students have missed out on learning since the onset of the pandemic, or that they need extra help to get back on track academically, socially, and emotionally. In many of our highest-poverty schools, test scores dropped because students lost family members to COVID-19, or because they were supervising their siblings instead of fully concentrating on their own schoolwork, or because they were busy working to keep their family from being evicted. This year’s test results, as they do every year, reflect our failure as a society to support students living in high-poverty districts; they’re not a reflection of our students’ true potential.

AFT Massachusetts Member Profile: Amesbury's Tia Costello is Developing Civics Professional Development Curricula 

Before AFT Amesbury member Tia Costello was selected as one of just 12 teachers nationwide to be part of an AFT Civics Design Team that will develop civics curricula and professional development for K-12 educators, she spent a decade teaching social studies to Amesbury middle school students. But her path to becoming a national civics education leader began long before that.

“Especially in the climate that we’re in, it’s important that educators understand how to talk about politics and ensure that we can have conversations without tuning each other out,” says Tia. “It’s important for teachers of civics to have passion, teach dynamically, and encourage, not shy away from, student participation.”

“I really do believe that kids learn best when they get to do things themselves,” says Tia. “Even though they’re not old enough to vote, once they get involved in something, they realize they can make a difference. Civics education builds agency in kids. They realize that as adults, they can vote, but they can also do much more than just that. They can be full participants in our democracy.”

COVID-19 Myth-busting

Setting the record straight on dangerous misinformation campaigns fueling skepticism and hesitance around the COVID-19 vaccines.

Dangerous misinformation campaigns are fueling skepticism and hesitance around the COVID-19 vaccines, a situation that both prevents achievement of herd immunity and increases the possibility that new variants will be deadly to even the vaccinated. The truth is that 99.5 percent of all COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths happening now are among the unvaccinated. As vaccination numbers lag and COVID-19 infections surge in many communities, it is imperative that AFT members have the most accurate and up-to-date information about the vaccines. The "COVID-19 Myth-busting Factsheet" was composed by the AFT and is intended to set the record straight about some myths and misconceptions.