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."
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+.
“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.”
“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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
The COVID-19 pandemic taught us important lessons about the impact of a public health crisis on public education and our health care system. The closing of schools and colleges — and then the dramatically altered ways in which they needed to operate under pandemic conditions — posed significant challenges for students, families, patients, and our communities.
Yet we understood that failing to take bold steps to keep people safe during the pandemic would cause even deeper pain.
Now we must treat gun violence as a national crisis.
“Raising the cut scores required for high school graduation would have a harmful impact on the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable students, impairing their futures by potentially denying these students the opportunity to earn a high school diploma,” Kontos writes. “Instead of doubling down on a flawed test that promotes inequality … put your energies into developing more non-MCAS pathways to a high school diploma.”
“How does the establishment of new barriers to a high school diploma square with DESE’s professed aim of advancing racial and social equity?” Kontos asks state officials. “Your proposal to raise the passing standard appears to be in direct conflict with your larger equity goals—and for that reason alone should be abandoned.”
Kontos applauds DESE for its recent efforts to re-examine policies through a racial equity lens. But she asks: “Why has the accountability system—with its demonstrated racial and socioeconomic bias and clear mismeasurement of school quality—escaped this reckoning? Why does DESE continue to label and punish schools serving students of color based on biased, inaccurate, and discredited measures?”
“It’s time to pause, reflect and reimagine school-accountability policy,” Kontos concludes. “We urge you to make that a top priority, and we look forward to being part of that work.”