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Lowell Educators Spent $674,000 of Their Own Money on Classroom Supplies Last Year; Average Teacher Spent $612

Survey of Lowell Educators’ Out-of-Pocket Spending Demonstrates Need for New State School Funding

A recent survey of Lowell educators shows that teachers and paraprofessionals are spending hundreds of dollars of their own money each year on classroom supplies for their students. In total, Lowell educators spent approximately $674,000 of their own money on classroom supplies last year, and raised hundreds of thousands of additional dollars from crowdsourcing platforms.

Libraries = Strong Communities

AFT Massachusetts is proud to represent school and municipal library employees across Massachusetts. Last week, we observed National Library Week, an annual celebration highlighting the valuable role libraries, librarians, and library workers play in transforming lives and strengthening our communities.
 
This year’s National Library Week theme, ‘Libraries = Strong Communities,’ illustrates how today’s libraries are at the heart of our cities, towns, schools and campuses, providing critical resources, programs and expertise. They also provide a public space where all community members, regardless of age, culture or income level, can come together to connect and learn.

AFT Massachusetts Member Organizers Are Building Union Power Locally

Member engagement is the core of what we do as a union. It’s how we build the power we need to win contract, legislative and other advocacy campaigns. One of AFT Massachusetts’ top priorities is building power in our locals and our communities by improving the operational capacity of our locals and empowering our members to be activists.
 
One important way we do that is through the AFT Member Organizing Institute. A jointly funded program of the AFT, AFT Massachusetts, and local unions, now in its second year, the AFT Member Organizing Institute capitalizes on one of our most valuable resources—our members—to help build union power and activism.
 
“Our member organizing institute for this wave has had a record number of participants at 13 and we continue to applaud the vital work being done in our locals to build capacity, identify emerging leaders and of course, continue to internally organize our rank and file members,” said Brian LaPierre, AFT Massachusetts Director of Organization. “They are doing spectacular work in our communities that supports a progressive, grassroots movement to win the battle of properly funding our schools so that all of our students have the tools they need to be successful.”

Celebrating Our Paraprofessionals

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.

“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. “We have printed paraprofessional appreciation stickers and provided them to local unions around the state, and we encourage members to wear them on Wednesday, April 3 to observe Paraprofessional Appreciation Day.”

Get Ready for the 2019 AFT Massachusetts Convention!

“Celebrating our Successes, Organizing for our Future”

Our solidarity is our strength, and nobody can take that away from us. From the Fund Our Future campaign and our work with the Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance, to the Member Organizer Institute and successful contract fights across the state, we’re growing our membership engagement, working with parents and students in our communities, and winning victories for our schools and students.
 
As we continue this critical work, get ready to join us for the 2019 AFT Massachusetts Convention! On May 3 and 4, 2019 at the Boston Park Plaza, we’ll hear from national and state labor leaders including AFT President Randi Weingarten, Arlene Inouye from the United Teachers of LA and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, present Distinguished Service Awards and scholarships, and further develop our collective strength as educators and organizers.

UMass Dartmouth Students, Faculty, and Staff Are Organizing for Affordable, High-Quality Public College

Students, faculty, and staff at UMass Dartmouth are organizing to strengthen the university and make it more affordable, with the formation of a UMass Dartmouth chapter of PHENOM, the Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts. PHENOM, which has chapters at 10 other UMass campuses, state universities, and community colleges, brings students, families, alumni, professors, staff, and community members together to advocate for high-quality, debt-free public college.

Student debt relief is union work

AFT leaders in Massachusetts know that supporting our members goes beyond what happens in the classroom, or the schoolhouse, or even the Statehouse. That’s why, when the AFT started offering student debt clinics to help members struggling with student loan debt, AFT Massachusetts leaders decided to make it a statewide initiative. 

“Advocating for our members is what we do,” says Kontos. “So, as a union, we’re fighting to make college affordable and hold the student loan industry accountable for the debt crisis it has created. But we can’t just fight these big fights and ignore the reality of the massive student loan debt many of our members are struggling with. These debt clinics are about helping union members find relief so they can keep serving their communities.”

AFT Massachusetts Members are Taking Action to ‘Fund Our Future’

AFT Massachusetts members from around the state are taking action to ‘Fund Our Future’ as part of a new campaign to reinvest in Massachusetts’ public schools and colleges. Since the new state legislative session began last month, members have been working to pass legislation that would fix the state’s school funding formula and reinvest more than $1.5 billion each year in public education from preK through college.
 
“Our public education system is underfunded from top to bottom, and through our work with the Fund Our Future coalition, we are committed to ensuring that our students and their schools have the funding they need to succeed, from preK through college,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. “These bills will help us support our students throughout their entire education, no matter where they come from or what needs they have. We’ve waited far too long for Massachusetts to invest in our kids, and it’s time to pass this legislation now!”

Fighting Against School Closures: Lessons from Two Boston Teachers

When Boston Public Schools officials announced their intention to close a middle school and two high schools last October, Neema Avashia was ready.

“In Boston, its no secret that there’s been a plan to close middle schools,” said Avashia, an 8th grade civics teacher at the McCormack Middle School in Dorchester.

She and her colleagues had been working for two years to plan the middle school’s transition to a 7-12 school when they found out that district officials planned to close the McCormack, send students to a different school, and, after renovating the McCormack, put the building out to bid for other 7-12 schools to take

Teachers as Partners in School Improvement

Teams of educators and school administrators from Boston, Lawrence, and Lynn recently attended the American Federation of Teachers’ Center for School Improvement Leadership Institute, a three-day conference in New York City focused on strengthening collaboration skills with district and school improvement teams to improve student achievement.

“We were delighted to offer this opportunity to school improvement teams from three school districts that are already doing amazing collaborative work in their local schools,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. “When educators and management work together to improve our schools, we can do so much for our students. We look forward to even more positive collaboration in the future thanks to the lessons teams learned at this conference.”