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AFT Massachusetts Celebrates Pride Month

“AFT Massachusetts is proud to celebrate Pride Month and continue our commitment to the ongoing fight for LGBTQ+ rights, in Massachusetts and around the nation,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. “As we celebrate Pride Month this year, we are reflecting on the many parallels between the early gay rights movement and the moment we are in today. As we celebrate Pride Month, rally for racial justice, and fight for economic and education justice, we know that our collective fights are intrinsically linked.”
 
The modern gay rights movement began in June 1969 with the Stonewall Uprising, when Black trans people, gay men, and lesbians protested against police brutality and harassment at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. The Stonewall Uprising led to the first widespread LGBTQ+ organizing in the labor movement. In 1970, the American Federation of Teachers became the first federal labor union to pass a resolution opposing discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Boston, Lowell Local Leaders Join AFT Massachusetts Board

AFT Massachusetts is excited to welcome two great new members to our statewide Executive Board! This month, Amrita Dani of the Boston Teachers Union and Patty Myers of the United Teachers of Lowell joined the board, which represents the 23,000 AFT members statewide.

“I’m thrilled that these two great local union leaders will join the AFT Massachusetts Executive Board as we work to ensure that safety and equity are at the forefront of Massachusetts’ plan to reopen schools this fall,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. “Their experience engaging members and organizing to protect public education will be critical as we work to ensure our schools have the federal and state funding they need, and as we advocate for our most vulnerable students who are most at risk of falling behind during school closures.”

AFT Massachusetts Endorses Senator Ed Markey for Re-election

The AFT Massachusetts has announced our endorsement of Ed Markey for re-election to the United States Senate – the latest labor endorsement for a champion of public education and working people. We encourage all AFT Massachusetts members to cast their vote for Senator Ed Markey on Tuesday, September 1 (Primary Election Day) and Tuesday, November 3 (General Election Day).

AFT Massachusetts Statement of Solidarity with our Black Students, Families, Educators, and Communities

AFT Massachusetts stands in solidarity with our Black students, families, educators, and communities in Massachusetts and around the country, and joins them to condemn anti-Black racism and police brutality..

As educators, we must confront racism in our schools, and in our communities, even when the headlines fade. AFT Massachusetts is committed to fighting for antiracist reforms – real, lasting change that transforms not just policing, but our entire society. In the classroom and the community, we must challenge our own internal biases and fight to transform the systems that preserve them.

AFT Massachusetts Celebrates National Library Week

AFT Massachusetts is proud to represent school and municipal library employees across Massachusetts. This week, we are observing National Library Week (April 19 - 25, 2020), an annual celebration highlighting the valuable role libraries, librarians, and other library employees play in transforming lives and strengthening our communities.

“Librarians and library employees work hard every day to provide critical resources, programs, and expertise to people of all ages, and now is no exception. Today, our public libraries are playing an especially important role in supporting the education of children whose schools are closed,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. “I’m constantly amazed by all the hard work happening to ensure that children, seniors, and others who depend on our public libraries are able to access research and learning resources at this time. It’s a great reminder that public libraries are a vital community space for all of us. AFT Massachusetts is excited to recognize the valuable contributions librarians and library workers make every single day.”

North Attleboro, Peabody Local Leaders Join AFT Massachusetts Board as New Vice Presidents

AFT Massachusetts is excited to welcome two dynamic new Vice Presidents to our statewide Executive Board! Earlier this month, the AFT Massachusetts Executive Board voted to support President Beth Kontos’ recommendation to appoint Nicole Reminder and Mary Henry to fill vacancies on the board.

“I’m thrilled that these two great local union leaders will join the AFT Massachusetts Executive Board as we work to ensure that every student has a fully-funded school,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. “Their work to empower and engage members will be critical as we push historic school funding legislation over the finish line and then make sure the new money is spent on services our students need in the classroom.”

“I am excited to serve in this capacity and look forward to contributing to the work of the executive board,” said Nicole Reminder, president of the North Attleboro Federation of Teachers. “I hope to be able to be a voice for smaller-sized, suburban locals. As a current classroom teacher, I can also bring the perspective of what it is like to be in today's classroom environment.”

Paraprofessional Appreciation Day 2020

Wednesday, April 3 is Paraprofessional Appreciation Day, a national day when we celebrate our paraprofessionals and highlight the contributions of paraprofessionals to their students and schools. In the middle of the COVID-19 crisis, the work done by paraprofessionals is more important than ever before. 
 
“Paraprofessionals are essential members of our team of educators, and they do critically important work every single day, helping students of all abilities to learn, grow, and succeed. Our schools would not function without them,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. “This year, paraprofessionals are doing even more as we all cope with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. While our schools are closed, paraprofessionals in districts across Massachusetts continue to work incredibly hard to make sure their students have food and are able to learn.” 

BTU Unafraid Educators Are Welcoming, Cherishing, and Protecting Undocumented and Immigrant Students and Families

The BTU Unafraid Educators are a group of BTU members seeking to build schools where all immigrant and undocumented students are welcomed, respected, cherished, and protected.

“I and many other BTU members got involved with Unafraid Educators after seeing a rise in anti-immigration sentiment during the 2016 election cycle. Students were organizing within our schools, and we saw a need within our school community,” says Nora Paul-Schultz, a Physics Teacher at the John D. O'Bryant School of Math and Science. “Lena [Papagiannis, a History Teacher at the O'Bryant School] and I tried to put together a college access workshop for undocumented students, and found there weren’t easily accessible resources. We were connected to Unafraid Educators, which had been started in early 2016 by a guidance counselor and leaders from SIM. We were excited to learn there was already a group doing some of this work.”

“Unafraid Educators is all about helping our students feel more welcomed and more supported,” says Papagiannis, the History Teacher at the O'Bryant School. “We see our work as building sanctuary schools from the ground up, which, to us, means empowering educators with the tools to support undocumented students and those from mixed-status families. This begins in classrooms and spreads throughout entire school communities through the Week of Action and college access programming. We also see our role in the political sphere, advocating for district policies and government legislation that protects our students and their families.”

Public Schools Week: February 24-28

On February 24-28, educators, parents, students, and our communities will be celebrating Public Schools Week, a national celebration of the great things happening every day in public schools — and of these schools’ potential for greater things.
 
“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,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. “At their best, public schools lift up our students and give them the tools they need to grow and thrive socially, academically, and emotionally.”