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AFT Massachusetts Applauds Biden Student Debt Relief Plan

“President’s Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan will be life-changing for tens of thousands of Massachusetts teachers, counselors, librarians, and other workers who have dedicated their lives to public service, as well as for millions of borrowers across the country who have been failed by a broken higher education funding system.

“Forgiving $10,000 of student debt for all low- and middle-income borrowers, and an additional $10,000 for Pell Grant recipients, will greatly reduce the burden of debt that is holding many borrowers back from buying a home, starting a family, or following their chosen career. By reducing costs for thousands of educators, this plan will aid educator retention and help combat the teacher and staff shortages our schools are facing. Through this plan, and through other executive actions such as reform of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, the Biden Administration is delivering transformative student debt relief where it is needed most.

For AFT Member Toni Bourgea, Teaching Polish & Ukrainian Students This Summer Was ‘A Melting Pot of Education and Shared Knowledge’

​Many AFT Massachusetts members spend their summers teaching summer school, but for Toni Bourgea, a veteran teacher at South Shore Vocational Technical High School in Hanover, this summer presented an incredible opportunity: teaching English to Polish and Ukrainian students in the small town of Ciezsanow, Poland, near the Polish-Ukranian border.

Toni, an English teacher and president of the union at South Shore Vocational Technical High School, used to run overseas trips for students and parents from the school, traveling to 17 countries in 7 years. When she learned about the planned trip to Poland, she jumped at the opportunity to apply

BKT Discount for AFT Members

Journey to modern-day Egypt and see wonders of the ancient world like the Temple at Karnak and the Great Sphinx. Experience ancient history come to life and gaze at the Egyptian sun as it rises above the Pyramids of Giza, filling the sky with vivid color. Travel back in time 3,000 years to the 18th dynasty when King Tut ruled and gods like Ra and Anubis were worshiped by all.

Take advantage of this exclusive AFT member discount for 40% off on weekdays and 20% off on weekends! Please visit for more information. National Geographic’s Beyond King Tut: The Immersive Experience is currently open at the SoWa Power Station from now until October 2nd, 2022.

AFT Massachusetts President on the Mystic Valley Charter School Administration's Discriminatory Behavior

Mystic Valley Charter School has a shameful history of targeting students with special needs, disciplining students for the way they wear their hair, and, most recently, discriminating against students for their religious dress. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) must immediately revoke their charter school license to protect any future students from being subjected to this illegal treatment.

Enough is enough! If DESE refuses to act, I call on the Attorney General to seek an injunction preventing the Mystic Valley Charter School from receiving any additional state funding. Their years-long pattern of discriminatory behavior disqualifies them from receiving any future state appropriations."

Second Chance for Transferees for R+ Participation

Teachers Who Transferred into the Massachusetts Teachers Retirement System from Another Massachusetts Public Retirement System Can Opt in to Retirement Plus. With AFT Massachusetts support, the Legislature has at long last passed a bill which allows those teachers who transferred into Massachusetts Teachers Retirement System (MTRS) or the Boston Retirement System after June 1, 2001 and before June 30, 2022 a one time opportunity to opt into RetirementPlus.

The Governor has signed legislation that offers eligible members who transferred into the MTRS a second opportunity to elect to participate in the RetirementPlus (R+) program. The R+ program, signed into law in 2000, provided eligible members with increased retirement benefits. As stipulated in the R+ legislation in 2000, members who transferred into the MTRS from another Massachusetts public retirement system (e.g., a teacher aide who became a teacher) had 180 days to elect to participate in R+. If they did not respond, they were not enrolled in R+.

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.