News from President Beth Kontos
President Kontos with several AFT members at the BTU AFT Massachusetts Paraprofessionals and School Related Personnel Conference
- Community Schools
- Experiential Learning (which includes but is broader than CTE)
- Restoring the Teaching Profession (which we would expand to supporting school staff systemwide)
- Parents and Communities as Partners
Some of this we can advance through legislative advocacy, some of it through our own choices about partnerships and engagement. You can read Randi’s speech here, and watch it here. An AFT news story about the speech is here.
- Climate and the Classroom: Surveys show that teachers, students and the American public all agree that climate change should be taught in schools—yet K-12 teachers who want to include climate change in their coursework are often unsupported by the curricula, standards and policies that guide their instruction. Join the MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative for a free webinar discussion between three climate education specialists about resources for teaching climate, best practices from schools and educational institutions around the U.S., and new ideas to support K-12 teachers at every level. Thursday, April 13, 1-2 pm EDT. Register now.
- How do we create healthy and sustainable schools while creating good jobs? The Massachusetts AFL-CIO has submitted three bills to help us. Click here to learn more about them.
- AFT Massachusetts has launched a Climate Caucus that meets monthly to discuss advocacy around environmental issues. You can join the Climate Caucus here.
2023 AFT Massachusetts Convention: Moving Forward Together
The past year has brought important changes to the educational landscape in Massachusetts, from the passage of the Fair Share Amendment to the election of a new Governor who is a strong supporter of public education. In this new era, AFT Massachusetts is working to deliver the schools and libraries our communities deserve, the services and staffing our students need, and the workplace protections AFT Massachusetts members rely on.
AFT Massachusetts Praises Education Spending in Governor Healey’s Budget, But Issues Warning About Tax Cuts’ Impact on Future Budgets
#AFTVoices: Fighting for Justice by Living the Example - A Conversation with Joel Richards
#AFTVoices: Jim Lucia Highlights Roll of MRU in Advocating for Retirees
Retirement Planning Workshop for AFT Members and Proposed Legislation in Support of a Dignified Retirement
- An Act Relative to Teacher Retirement Election (H.2483 filed by Representative Consalvo - S.1702 filed by Senator Miranda)
- An Act relative to benefits for teachers (H.2630 filed by Representative Peisch)
- An Act relative to the retirement options of certain educational personnel (S.1741 filed by Senator Timilty)
- Link to our advocacy tool https://aftmassachusetts.tiny.us/RPlus
In 2001, Massachusetts introduced Teachers' Alternate Retirement Plan (TARP) or Retirement Plus, an enhanced retirement option for teachers, school nurses, related service providers and other educators with a deduction rate of 11%. All educators hired after July 1, 2001 were automatically enrolled in the new program, but current educators had only 6 months to opt in. A complicated process and confusing branding meant that many educators didn’t properly enroll, or thought they were enrolled when they really weren’t. (For instance, the branding of TARP as “Retirement Plus” caused many eligible teachers to think they were already in the program when they saw a deduction of “9+2%” on their paychecks). Others were unenrolled from the program without notice when they transferred between different school districts. As a result, several thousand educators will have to work for 3-5 years longer to earn the maximum retirement benefit.
H.2483, S.1702, H.2630, and S.1741 would allow current non-TARP educators to opt into the enhanced TARP retirement benefits that current employees receive, by paying the difference between what they’ve paid in deductions since 2001 and what they would have paid if they had opted in at the time. This “make-up amount” could be paid in either 1, 2, or 3-year increments (via payroll deductions) or in one lump-sum payment. The legislation would require modest additional state funding of teacher retirement benefits, and would result in substantial savings to local school districts through the retirement of R+ educators and the hiring of new teachers at significantly lower salaries.
- An Act to provide fair and affordable public retiree benefits (H.2505, filed by Representative Donahue, and S.1638, filed by Senator Cyr)
- Link to our advocacy tool https://aftmassachusetts.tiny.us/TakeActionCOLA
Amid high inflation, retired educators and other public retirees face rising costs for food, rent, gas, healthcare, and other household expenses. But the state’s system for determining annual cost of living adjustments (COLA) involves a base rate of just $13,000 – a rate that has not been adjusted since 2011. That’s hardly enough to make ends meet. H.2505 and S.1638 would ensure greater economic security for retired educators by immediately increasing the COLA base to $18,000, and then gradually increasing the base until it reaches the maximum social security benefit for an individual worker retiring at full retirement age.