News from AFT Massachusetts and President Beth Kontos - November 2019

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Message from AFT Massachusetts and President Beth Kontos

What do we have to be thankful for?

There is so much to be thankful for this week as we celebrate the Student Opportunity Act! Governor Charlie Baker signed the landmark bill into law at a signing ceremony at English High School in Boston on November 26. The strength of this new law is a testament to the tens of thousands of AFT members, parents, and activists who poured their hearts and souls into this multiyear struggle for equitably funded public schools. Make no mistake: Our hard work and dedication paid off. The Legislature and governor heard our voices and saw our determination. Consequently, we won a great victory for students, educators, and parents. More details are found HERE.
 
In our schools we have partnered with Project Bread and Blue Cross/Blue Shield to highlight the work of our educators who are combating student hunger. Last year there were several AFT MA members honored (read their story HERE) and our work continues as we seek ways to implement Breakfast After the Bell smoothly in our schools. Stay tuned as Project Bread and Blue Cross/Blue Shield continue to collaborate with AFT MA as the school year continues.
 
AFT MA is committed to helping our members make informed choices about negotiating the rising cost of higher education by running debt clinics around the state. Click HERE if you are interested in participating in a debt clinic in your area. We will be planning more after the holidays. Click HERE to find more information on scholarships offered for children of AFT MA or other AFL-CIO affiliated unions.
 
And while we may be distracted by the good news on education funding and the approaching holidays, we are also paying close attention to the presidential debates. Please spend some time reading the bios of the candidates at http://aftvotes.org/ and sign up to participate in our own AFT MA conversation about the political endorsement process. On December 5th AFT MA will hold the first in a series of Presidential Endorsement conversations at 7pm. To join us please register at this link bit.ly/AFTMA2020DEC5 You will receive a link to dial into our call.
 
We are excited to announce that the AFT is partnering with several education and parent organizations, including the NEA, AROS and NAACP, to host the Presidential Public Education Forum 2020. The forum will be held on December 14, 2019 in Pittsburgh, PA. The forum will be an additional opportunity for members to directly engage in the 2020 Presidential Endorsement. It will be streamed and there will be watch parties scheduled around the state.  
 
If you would you like to enter the contest to attend this presidential forum simply go to https://actionnetwork.org/forms/aftvotes and answer this question by November 28th to be eligible: If you had the chance to tell the next President one thing about why you’re 'public school proud' or what you see in your school and community that needs improvement, what would it be? Costs of attendance will be covered by AFT national.  
 
As always, we will continue to inform you of events via email and social media. Please like us on Facebook and follow us on twitter @aftma.
 

Happy Thanksgiving,

Beth

Victory for Equity!  Historic School Funding Bill Signed into Law

Tens of thousands of public-school advocates across Massachusetts let out a collective cheer after Governor Charlie Baker signed the landmark Student Opportunity Act (SOA) into law at a signing ceremony at English High School in Boston on November 26. The new law commits the state to achieving equitably funded public schools over a seven-year span, promising billions in additional state aid over that period.  

“Today is a day to rejoice and celebrate,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos, who attended the signing ceremony. “The strength of this new law is a testament to the tens of thousands of AFT members, parents, and activists who poured their hearts and souls into this multiyear struggle for equitably funded public schools. Make no mistake: Our hard work and dedication paid off. The Legislature and governor heard our voices and saw our determination. Consequently, we won a great victory for students, educators, and parents.” READ MORE.

Get Involved in the AFTVotes Presidential Endorsement Process!

As educators and AFT members, we know that elections have real consequences, but the 2020 presidential election is especially important. The more involved we are, the stronger our collective voice is and the more effective our political role becomes.

With the 2020 presidential election underway, AFT members’ voices need to be heard. AFT members – make sure you take this quick survey to share your priorities in a presidential endorsement!

Together, we can ensure that our collective voice shapes the debate and that we elect a candidate who shares our values and vision for our country. READ MORE.

Teacher Champion Award Helps Promote Solutions to Food Insecurity

 

Participation in school breakfast is associated with better health and academic outcomes for all students and is crucial for students who may not have the ability to eat before the school day begins. AFT Massachusetts has partnered with non-profit organization Project Bread and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts to create the Teacher Champion Award to celebrate and recognize educators who have demonstrated a commitment to ending hunger in schools through school breakfast and other programs.

“It’s no secret that teachers often take on roles that extend beyond classroom instruction, including addressing their students’ hunger needs through classroom food pantries, snack bags and more,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. “We are happy to be a part of this team coming together to recognize and support our teachers’ extraordinary efforts to ensure students’ basic needs are met and that they are ready to learn every day.”  READ MORE.

AFT Massachusetts 2020 Scholarship Program

 
Every year AFT Massachusetts awards thousands of dollars in scholarships to eligible high school seniors who are dependents of AFT Massachusetts members. The awards, named in honor of former AFT leaders Kathy Kelley, Albert Shanker and Sandra Feldman, and for long-time AFT Massachusetts field representative Jay Porter, are awarded on the basis of a labor history exam administered by the Massachusetts AFL-CIO.

“Now more than ever, it’s important for young people to understand the role of labor unions in our country’s history,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. “AFT Massachusetts is proud to offer these college scholarships to students who are part of our union family.”

To be considered for a scholarship the student must be a dependent of an AFT Massachusetts member and a high school senior. The student must also attend a college or other post-secondary school in the fall of the following academic year. READ MORE.

Member Benefits Spotlight

The Power and Advantage of Union Membership: Auto and Home Insurance Discount Program -- As an AFT Massachusetts member, you’re eligible for property and casualty insurance products at below-market rates through the union’s partnership with B&M Insurance. Through the collective purchasing power of AFT's 1,700,000 members and AFT Massachusetts' 23,000 members, you can receive up to a 28% discount for combined insurance products. Learn more here.

Upcoming Events

  • Tele-town Hall Regarding the 2020 Presidential Election Process - December 5, 2019
  • Union Member Candidates School - December 7, 2019
  • Member Benefits Workshop for AFT members on the 495 Belt North - December 17, 2019
  • Member Benefits Workshop for AFT members in the Mansfield area - January 28, 2020
  • AFT Massachusetts Convention 2020 – May 1 and 2, 2020
  • AFT Convention 2020 – July 27 to 30, 2020