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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.”

Annual Conference for Paraprofessionals and School-Related Personnel

The Annual PSRP Conference is a can’t-miss opportunity for professional development, education, and organizing. 

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, June 13 in Boston.

AFT Massachusetts, Boston Teachers Union Both Endorse U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren in MA Democratic Presidential Primary

The more than 23,000 members of the American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts, including the 10,000 members of the progressive and influential Boston Teachers Union, announced on Monday that both organizations have endorsed U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren in the Massachusetts Democratic Presidential Primary.

The endorsement adds two of the most politically active and progressive labor organizations in the state to the growing list of endorsements received by Senator Warren.

AFT Members Bringing Pro-Public Education Agenda to Local Elected Office

This November saw local elections for School Committee and City Council all across Massachusetts. As local communities prepare to receive millions of dollars in new state funding from the Student Opportunity Act, educators and their parent, student, and community allies are working to ensure that local officials are committed to spending that money in the classroom to support students’ needs. AFT Massachusetts members were active in dozens of local electoral campaigns this fall: knocking doors, holding signs, calling voters, and casting their ballots to support pro-public education candidates.

“As teachers, we know that policy doesn't always take into account the perspectives of those of us who work with students every day, who see both the triumphs and the struggles of modern education, and who truly know what we need from decisionmakers,” says Lipsett, the newly-elected Woburn School Committee member. “That's why we need to use our collective power to make sure our schools are focused on what students and teachers need. That means getting involved in local politics - advocating, voting, and even running.”

Amesbury Educators’ Political Engagement Leads to Contract Victory

“The people working in our school system have dedicated their lives to developing lifelong learners and it is time for city leadership to stand by them,” said AFT Amesbury Presidnet Cindy Yetman in the union’s endorsement announcement. “We need real leaders who will advocate for what’s best for children; fight for fair, equitable school funding and bold, innovative supports; and respect our profession and worker voice in schools and classrooms.”

Members of AFT Amesbury, along with parents and other community members, engaged in an all-out campaign to support the endorsed candidates, who campaigned together as an “Amesbury Schools Coalition Candidates” slate. 

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!

The AFT executive council has approved a presidential endorsement process that aspires to ensure the greatest level of participation of AFT members ever, by expanding the opportunities for members to give input and feedback, providing for direct candidate engagement with AFT members, and striving for the highest level of member participation ever achieved in an AFT presidential endorsement process.

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.
 

Paras Bring Books and Joy to Kindergartners

It truly was an OMG moment—first, when the Springfield Federation of Paraprofessionals won a major grant from AFT partner First Book, and next, when thousands of kindergartners all over the city got to join a read-aloud party at their school on a Friday morning and take home a free book.
 
Cathy Mastronardi, president of the Springfield paras’ union, describes what it was like to bring the value of our union into a collaboration with the school district in securing the First Book grant—together, winning for their community the essential resources it would be impossible to obtain alone.