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The 25,000-member AFT Massachusetts, one of the state’s largest labor unions, announced their endorsement of Jay Gonzalez for Governor in this year’s election. The AFT Massachusetts is the first statewide labor union to make an endorsement in the race for Governor.

“Jay has an aspirational vision for an education system that gives every student the resources they need to succeed. Through his strong support for the Fair Share Amendment, he’s outlined a plan to fully fund our schools and libraries, fix the broken Foundation Budget, and make our public colleges affordable again,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos


Growing Statewide Momentum for Recess Requirements As Teachers and Parents Push Back Against Overreliance on Testing

Elementary and middle school students in Lowell will be guaranteed recess after a successful campaign by teachers from the United Teachers of Lowell and parents, students, and community members from the Lowell Education Justice Alliance.

A citywide recess policy adopted by the Lowell School Committee in May will require elementary schools to have a minimum 20-minute daily recess and require middle schools to have a minimum 15-minute daily recess. Elementary and middle schools will also have 5-minute activity breaks in the morning and afternoon, with physical activities including yoga, stretching and dance. 


AFT Massachusetts has submitted comments on a proposal by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to extend Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) training requirements to vocational technical teachers. 

The letter to DESE from newly elected AFT MA President Beth Kontos states that AFT MA supports the concept of vocational technical teachers receiving this important training. However, the letter notes numerous flaws with the proposed implementation plan and timeline. The letter also provides concrete recommendations for solving the identified problems.  


Education reforms in Massachusetts reliant on high-stakes, test-based accountability “have failed to reduce the achievement gap or to improve schools,” concludes a new report by a special Senate Subcommittee to the Joint Committee on Education. 

The comprehensive and detailed report, titled Rethinking School Accountability, reviews the history of educational improvement efforts in Massachusetts, including the 1993 Massachusetts Education Reform Act and the 2010 Achievement Gap Act. Based on experiences to date, and particularly trends since 2010, the report notes a “growing consensus that rewards and punishments based on testing are ineffective in reducing inequality, and that schools alone cannot achieve equity in student learning opportunities and outcomes.”


AFT Massachusetts has submitted comments on proposed revisions to the state’s school and district accountability framework.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has proposed changes to both the regulations and the system under which schools and districts are assessed and classified.

In a letter to DESE signed by newly elected President Beth Kontos, AFT MA expressed deep concerns about the proposals, calling them a "missed opportunity," and urged the Department to move in a different direction: “Why not hit the reset button and begin the process anew?”


The 50th annual convention of the AFT Massachusetts featured the election of a new president, a visit from Senator Elizabeth Warren, and a stirring speech from national AFT President Randi Weingarten. Approximately 300 delegates from AFT locals throughout Massachusetts attended the gathering in Quincy on April 27 and 28.

Salem Teachers Union leader Beth Kontos was elected the new President of the AFT Massachusetts at the convention.

“I’m humbled by the support of my AFT colleagues and honored to have the opportunity to advocate for educators, students, and families at this critical time,” she told the delegates. 


On one of the coldest days on record, teachers from the John R. Rollins Early Childhood Center returned to their fire-scarred building to pack up their rooms and move to what they hoped would be temporary facilities at St. Mary of Assumption Elementary School so their nearly 200 students could continue to enjoy a safe place to learn with as little interruption as possible.

While other schools in the district dealt with a two-hour delay that was called on account of the frigid temperatures, Rollins staff carried boxes in and out so they could try to prepare their new rooms in the one day before


Just one month after the Rollins fire, AFT President Randi Weingarten came to the temporary home of the Rollins to marvel at the progress the teachers and staff had made and to offer her continued support.

“This is the second time national has stepped in," explained LTU President Frank McLaughlin, recalling the 2015 fire at the Bruce School (please see December 2016/January 2017 issue). “I know that all I have to do is make a call and Randi and her team will be here to help.”

“What we are trying to do within the AFT is to walk the walk,” Weingarten explained. “The union wants to do what we can


Every day, teachers, paraprofessionals, and other school support staff do all they can to provide students (and each other) with information and support that will sustain and strengthen them as they prepare for life’s challenges and opportunities. Unfortunately, while districts like Salem (see October/November 2017 issue) are encouraging and involving the students in sustainable and educational nutritional programs, many schools do not provide the sustenance and support that young minds and bodies require.

Veteran teacher and AFT MA Executive Board member Michael Maguire has taken it upon


As the number of living Holocaust survivors continues to dwindle, it becomes more important for others to tell their stories so that deniers can be denied and the repetition of history can be stopped.

In her new book, The Jews of Nazi-Vienna, 1938-1945: Rescue and Destruction, UMass Dartmouth Professor Dr. Ilana F. Offenberger uses archival documents to explore and explain Jewish resistance in Vienna during the Holocaust. Among the topics dealt with in Offenberger’s book and her speaking engagements are religious freedom and tolerance, what she calls the “warning signs” of genocide, and how so