A Message from AFT Massachusetts and President Beth Kontos - February 2020

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A Message from President Beth Kontos

Many of us at AFT MA began the month with canvassing in New Hampshire for our endorsed presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren.  It was cold and icy but it was worth the effort when we were met late in the day by the candidate herself. Senator Warren spoke to a packed gymnasium explaining her plans for healthcare, education, and immigration reform among others. Our own BTU member, Johnny McInnis, was chosen from the audience to ask a question…of course he inquired about her education plans! The primary for Massachusetts is on Tuesday, March 3rd. Remember to VOTE!
 
AFT MA joined with our Fund Our Future coalition partners at the State House in support of the Cherish Act to improve funding for public higher education in Massachusetts. The speakers included students and educators from UMass Dartmouth, Salem State University, and UMass Boston. The rising cost of public higher education has contributed to an increasing student debt problem. Many of our members also have student loan debt that is weighing them down. But as we work towards solutions at the state and federal level, we are continuing to hold debt clinics teaching our members how to apply for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Our next clinic will be held at the Chelsea Teachers Union on March 16th  – sign up HERE. There is also a clinic scheduled at the Boston Teachers Union on May 12th – sign up HERE if you want to join us. Read about the Cherish Act HERE.
 
Educators and families around the state are continuing to meet with superintendents and school committee members to weigh in on how to allocate education funding as required by the Student Opportunity Act. Each district must submit a plan this April, and then again every three years. We see more educator involvement than ever before in the process of creating the schools our students deserve!  
 
We are continuing with our benefits dinners. In February we met with members who work in AFT MA schools along the Route 495 corridor at The Establishment in Chelmsford (picture above). We had a great meal, time to socialize, and some of our partners explained the cost savings their products offer to our members. Next month we will be at Supino’s in Danvers on March 25th with members of the Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical School. Sign up HERE to attend.
 
And we end the month celebrating our schools with “Public Schools Week” and a proclamation signed by the Massachusetts legislature. In Massachusetts, we’re leading the country by reinvesting in our public schools because we know that great public education is the key to unlocking opportunity for all our students. At their best, public schools lift up our students and give them the tools they need to grow and thrive socially, academically, and emotionally.  Public Schools Week is an opportunity to celebrate the amazing things happening in our local public schools and rededicate ourselves to our work to strengthen public education.
 
Finally, join us on Monday, March 2nd for Public Higher Ed Advocacy Day. Meet at the State House between the hours of 9:30 and 2:30 to stand up for the community colleges and public universities that Massachusetts is famous for.  Click HERE to sign up!
 

Students & Educators Calling for $120 Million Reinvestment in Public Colleges, Tuition Freeze in Next State Budget

 
Since last year, the Fund Our Future campaign has been pushing for passage of the Cherish Act, which would increase state per-student funding for public higher education back to 2001 levels over five years, an increase of $600 million, and freeze tuition and fees at public campuses every year that state funding targets are met. As that push continues, advocates are proposing that the FY21 budget include at least the additional $120 million for public higher education that the first year of the Cherish Act would provide.
 
“We won a huge victory for public school students across Massachusetts with the Student Opportunity Act, but students from schools that will finally be well-funded are still slated to move on to public colleges and universities that are deeply underfunded. Students are being asked to borrow more and more to attend schools that are cutting the programs and services students need,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos.” MORE.

Annual Conference for Paraprofessionals and School-Related Personnel

 
If you’re an AFT paraprofessional or school related personnel (PSRP), you’ll want to join hundreds of your colleagues from across Massachusetts for the AFT Massachusetts - Boston Teachers Union Annual Conference for Paraprofessionals & School-Related Personnel, on Saturday, April 4 in Boston.
 
From 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the offices of the Boston Teachers Union, we will celebrate our PSRPs, provide workshops to support you and your students, and provide opportunities to build connections and learn from PSRPs in other schools and districts across the Commonwealth.  MORE.
 

Get Ready for the 2020 AFT Massachusetts Convention!

 
“Let’s Keep Winning: Advancing Educational and Workplace Justice Through Union Activism”
 
When we launched the Fund Our Future campaign, we were told we were asking for too much, and that we would never win the resources our students needed in the classrooms. But we stuck together, we organized, and we advocated, and we won a historic $1.5 billion funding commitment that prioritizes low-income communities that were being harmed by the old, inequitable system.
 
As an AFT Massachusetts member, you know that we have more power when we join together through our union. We’re most effective when we tap into our most enduring source of power: our collective engagement and activism as educators, finding common cause with parents, students, and community. MORE.
 

Member Benefits Spotlight

As an AFT Massachusetts member, you’re eligible for discounted pet insurance through the Union Plus Pets Best program.
 
Through the collective purchasing power of AFT's 1,700,000 members and AFT Massachusetts' 23,000 members, you can receive up to a 10% discount on pet insurance that reimburses you on your veterinary bills when your dog or cat gets sick or injured, with most claims processed within 5 days. Learn more or get a quote HERE.
 

Upcoming Events (Learn More)

  • Student Debt Clinic for AFT Members - March 16, 2020
  • Share My Lesson Virtual Conference - March 24-26, 2020
  • Member Benefits Workshop - March 25, 2020
  • Annual Conference for Paraprofessionals and School-Related Personnel - April 4, 2020
  • AFT Massachusetts Convention 2020 - May 1 and 2, 2020
  • Student Debt Clinic for AFT Members - May 12, 2020
  • AFT Convention 2020 - July 27 to 30, 2020