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The Thrive Act, a major education bill and legislative priority of AFT Massachusetts, has been scheduled for hearing by the Joint Committee on Education on October 4, 2023, starting at 2 p.m. in Gardner Auditorium at the State House.

“The upcoming hearing will be a critical opportunity for educators, students, parents, and community members to impress upon legislators the harm caused by state takeovers and the high-stakes use of MCAS standardized tests, and to show there’s a better way forward—the Thrive Act,” says AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. “We will be reaching out to local presidents to mobilize members and community allies for this event.”

“It continues to be all hands on deck,” says Kontos. “This is a special opportunity to put our imprint on education for years to come—to move from a deficit model of test and punish to an asset-based model of resources and support. And to a model that supports the whole child—all facets of learning and growth. We must seize the moment and work strenuously in partnership with our allies to make this bill a reality.”

NR PSRPs Rally

“Paras work hard to support the needs of North Reading students in the classroom every day, and we are members of this community. Some of us are your neighbors, some are your fellow parents, and some are graduates of North Reading schools. But for too long, our basic needs have been short-changed,” said Nancy Scioli, a Paraprofessional at the Little School and President of the North Reading Federation of Paraprofessionals. “As paraprofessionals, we should not have to work 2 or 3 jobs to pay our bills and feed our families, as two thirds of us do currently. We choose to work as Paraprofessionals because we love working with children, but we shouldn’t have to sacrifice so much to follow our desired career path. It’s time to stop under-valuing, under-paying and under-respecting the Paraprofessionals in the North Reading Public Schools!”

Less Testing More Learning

The AFT Massachusetts Executive Board voted to endorse a proposed ballot initiative that would end the use of the MCAS standardized test as a graduation requirement, replacing it with locally-developed, coursework-based measures for certifying academic mastery of state standards.

“Every hour students spend preparing for standardized tests is an hour they can’t spend engaged in meaningful learning. The state’s high-stakes MCAS-based graduation requirement hurts the quality of education for all students, and serves as a life-altering barrier for otherwise strong students who simply struggle with test-taking,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. “A graduation requirement based on coursework will be fairer, uphold Massachusetts’ strong academic standards, and better prepare students for the complex challenges of college or the workforce.”

Photo of AFT President Randi Weingarten addressing TEACH 2023

The AFT has always been a solutions-driven union, and our new campaign, launched during TEACH on July 21, proves it once again with a fresh, practical approach to strengthening public education. As AFT President Randi Weingarten pointed out during her keynote speech, the $5 million, yearlong campaign, “Real Solutions for Kids and Communities,” stands up against attacks on public schools and offers real-world solutions to build up, rather than break down, our communities.