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AFT Massachusetts Endorses Tami Gouveia for Lieutenant Governor, Shannon Liss-Riordan for Attorney General, & Diana DiZoglio for Auditor

“These three strong and independent leaders will deliver for Massachusetts students, educators, and families,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. “Along with our endorsed candidate for Governor, Maura Healey, AFT Massachusetts is proud to be endorsing a slate of proven women leaders who will make state government a true partner to our local schools as we work to recover from the effects of the pandemic.”

“Over the next four years, we have a lot of work to do to help our students get back on track, fully implement the Student Opportunity Act to fund our schools, and make affordable, high-quality public college an option for every student in Massachusetts,” said AFT Massachusetts Secretary-Treasurer Brant Duncan. “Tami, Shannon, and Diana are the champions we need fighting for students and educators on Beacon Hill.”

AFT Massachusetts Endorses Maura Healey for Governor of Massachusetts

“As the People’s Lawyer, Maura has always stood up strong for Massachusetts students and educators. As our next Governor, she’ll bring Massachusetts together to build an equitable recovery in our schools,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. “As Governor, Maura will invest in the academic supports, wraparound services, and mental health resources our students need to recover from the effects of the pandemic. She’s offering real solutions to close the opportunity gaps in our schools, and to make Massachusetts more affordable so that educators can afford to live and raise our families here. Maura Healey is the public school champion Massachusetts needs right now, and AFT Massachusetts is thrilled to endorse her as our next Governor.”

“As our Attorney General, Maura took on Betsy DeVos and the Trump Administration to protect survivors of sexual assault. She led the fight against predatory student loan servicers like Navient, winning millions of dollars in restitution for Massachusetts borrowers who were cheated by deceptive practices,” said AFT Massachusetts Secretary-Treasurer Brant Duncan. “As Governor, she’ll fully fund the Student Opportunity Act, ensuring that students in every community have access to a well-rounded education with the resources they need to succeed. And under her leadership, state government will be a real partner with local communities to help improve our schools.”

Chelmsford Federation of Teachers, AFT Massachusetts Wins A Victory for Labor

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Labor Relations (DLR) found the Chelmsford School Committee guilty last week on 12 counts of violating labor law in the case involving then Chelmsford Federation of Teachers President Jennifer Salmon. 

The DLR found that Ms. Salmon was both disciplined and placed on administrative leave in retaliation for her protected union activity in advocating for safety concerns of teachers. 
 
“The school administration clearly trampled on the rights of the union president, who was simply trying to schedule a meeting with the school principal to discuss safety issues,” said Beth Kontos, president of the AFT Massachusetts. “The school department’s retaliation against the democratically-elected union president for her protected union activity was nothing short of egregious.”  
  

UMass Dartmouth, Lynn Local Leaders Join AFT Massachusetts Board

AFT Massachusetts is excited to welcome two great new members to our statewide Executive Board! This month, Kim Wilson of the UMass Dartmouth Faculty Federation and Colleen LiPorto of the Lynn Teachers Union joined the board, which represents the 23,000 AFT members statewide.

“I’m excited to welcome these two passionate and experienced local union leaders to the AFT Massachusetts Executive Board as we work to help our students recover from the effects of the pandemic, tackle the growing workforce crisis in our public education system, and organize to win more resources for public education from preK through college,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. “Their experience, both in the classroom and as active union members, is critically important as we work to engage all of our members and organize together to protect public education.”

Managing Student Debt with AFT's "Summer" and Student Debt Programs

The federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program—with the changes that the AFT has secured through advocacy and litigation—is perhaps the single best opportunity to deliver money in our members’ pockets. So far, $7.3 billion has been forgiven for more than 127,000 public service workers. But there is limited time to act to secure these benefits. Specifically, the expanded opportunity to receive credit for past payments ends Oct. 31, 2022. That means AFT members must submit paperwork by this date—it’s not too late!

The temporary expansion of Public Service Loan Forgiveness means more people are getting relief, including many who were previously denied for having the “wrong type” of loan or repayment plan. You must apply before October 31, 2022 to take advantage of this temporary PSLF expansion. Don’t wait! Sign up with Summer at and apply for Public Service Loan Forgiveness today! Need more information? Attend an AFT student debt clinic webinar.

We Must Treat Gun Violence As a National Crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic taught us important lessons about the impact of a public health crisis on public education and our health care system. The closing of schools and colleges — and then the dramatically altered ways in which they needed to operate under pandemic conditions — posed significant challenges for students, families, patients, and our communities.

Yet we understood that failing to take bold steps to keep people safe during the pandemic would cause even deeper pain.

Now we must treat gun violence as a national crisis.

Kontos to DESE: Expand Non-MCAS Pathways to a High School Diploma

“Raising the cut scores required for high school graduation would have a harmful impact on the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable students, impairing their futures by potentially denying these students the opportunity to earn a high school diploma,” Kontos writes. “Instead of doubling down on a flawed test that promotes inequality … put your energies into developing more non-MCAS pathways to a high school diploma.”

“How does the establishment of new barriers to a high school diploma square with DESE’s professed aim of advancing racial and social equity?” Kontos asks state officials. “Your proposal to raise the passing standard appears to be in direct conflict with your larger equity goals—and for that reason alone should be abandoned.”

A Fairer Massachusetts. Better Schools & Transportation. A Stronger Recovery.

This November, Massachusetts voters will have the chance to vote on the Fair Share Amendment on the statewide general election ballot. This critically important ballot question would allow Massachusetts to improve our transportation and public education systems by making the very rich pay their fair share.

The ballot question would create a 4 percent tax on annual income above $1 million and dedicate the funds raised to transportation and public education. Only people who earn more than $1 million annually will pay this additional income tax; 99% of us won’t pay a penny more. And we’ll all benefit from better schools, roads, bridges, and public transportation.

Kontos to DESE: Suspend Broken School Accountability System

Kontos applauds DESE for its recent efforts to re-examine policies through a racial equity lens. But she asks: “Why has the accountability system—with its demonstrated racial and socioeconomic bias and clear mismeasurement of school quality—escaped this reckoning? Why does DESE continue to label and punish schools serving students of color based on biased, inaccurate, and discredited measures?”

“It’s time to pause, reflect and reimagine school-accountability policy,” Kontos concludes. “We urge you to make that a top priority, and we look forward to being part of that work.”

Fair Share Town Hall for AFT Members

Join AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos and US Senator Ed Markey on May 25 at 5 p.m. via Zoom to learn about how we're organizing to win the Fair Share campaign on this November's statewide ballot! Find out about this once-in-a-generation opportunity to raise new revenue for Massachusetts public schools, colleges, roads, bridges, and public transportation, and learn how you can get involved in the campaign.
 
The Fair Share Amendment is a proposal to add a small tax on annual individual incomes exceeding $1 million. While the amendment is expected to impact fewer than 1% of taxpayers, it is projected to raise $1-2 billion each year for investments in transportation and public education. The Fair Share Amendment is on the ballot statewide on November 8, 2022.