A Message from Beth Kontos
We had a much needed taste of spring this month. It’s amazing what a few degrees and a little extra sunshine will do for a person’s brain. Then we were reminded that record breaking 60 degree temperatures in February are not normal as we returned to more seasonal temps and a foot of new snow. The snow was a fun way for many of our students to finish their February vacation. If you were off, I hope you were able to rest and recharge for our physical and mental health. Personally, I have increased my walks as the days have gotten longer and I have started thinking about my garden again. I am an eternal optimist that all things, along with the weather, will improve.
Indoor Masking Recommendations: This past Friday, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new guidelines for indoor masking. According to the new recommendations, Massachusetts is considered low or moderate risk and people could be indoors without a mask. However, each school committee still has the final rule on mandating masking in each school district. Of course, families and educators may still choose to wear a mask while in the classroom regardless of these decisions. The CDC also reiterates that vaccinations including a booster along with ventilation is still the safest way for us to be together indoors. Read the statement from AFT president Randi Weingarten HERE and a link to the CDC map showing risk levels by county is HERE.
The MIT study warns that flawed accountability systems like that used in Massachusetts can perpetuate inequity and segregation: “Rating schemes that reward family background rather than educational effectiveness are likely to direct households to low-minority rather than higher-quality schools, while penalizing schools that improve achievement for less-advantaged groups.”
#AFTVoices Member Spotlight Series
#AFTVoices is proud to present, Narly Bedoya!
This series aims to uplift the voices, members, staff and educators that make up AFT Massachusetts. Narly is a 5th grade Special Education Paraprofessional and Chair of the Negotiations Team for the Springfield Federation of Paraprofessionals. "We're fighting for a wage increase because we simply aren't making enough. If para's have to have a couple of jobs to make ends meet, but we're exhausted for our students and families, who is that serving?" Check out the campaign here!
Retirement Planning for AFT Members
The financial professionals of Teacher Retirement Solutions (TRS) have partnered with AFT Massachusetts and specialize in providing independent financial guidance, strategies and solutions to educators, school employees, librarians, and their families throughout New England. Join TRS’ John Gregorio, a Certified Financial Planner, on March 22, 2022 via Zoom for a comprehensive workshop for prospective retirees. The Massachusetts' public employee retirement formula, Social Security and living in retirement will be among the topics discussed. An automated email with the details of the Zoom meeting will be sent to members that complete the form linked here.
Student Debt Clinic for AFT Members
Over 45 million people in the United States are struggling to make their monthly student loan payments, and millions more see economic and personal opportunities pass as they prioritize paying down their debt. Does this sound like you or someone you know?
Many of these people may qualify for free federal programs that can help reduce their monthly payments and eventually lead to student loan forgiveness, but these lifeline programs are significantly under-enrolled. Thanks to new rules just put in place by the Department of Education, many folks who thought loan forgiveness was out of reach are now finding that it is finally within grasp. To help our members get access to these programs and understand these new rules, AFT Massachusetts and the American Federation of Teachers are proud to host a Student Debt Clinic which will provide information on how to enroll in Income-Driven Repayment plans and Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
To attend our Student Debt Clinic, you must pre-register. Click here to register for our May 17th, 2022 Student Debt Clinic for AFT Members!
Take the Fair Share Amendment Vote Pledge
The top 1% make their first $1 million without additional tax, after that we're asking for 4 cents on their millionth and one dollar and so on. This would raise a substantial amount of NEW revenue annually to be re-invested into our public education system and transportation infrastructure. Right now, the Massachusetts economy is working great for those at the top. But it’s time to invest in our public infrastructure, schools, and communities, so that working families across MA can receive the support and benefits they deserve. EVERYONE must pay their fair share in taxes. We must pass the Fair Share Amendment and invest in the Commonwealth.
Do you plan to vote YES to pass the Fair Share Amendment on the ballot in 2022? Sign our pledge to become an official Fair Share Amendment Voter!