I am voting “Yes on 1” on November 8th to pass the Fair Share Amendment and support funding for public education, from preK through our public colleges and universities. I believe the benefits of public education, from age 3 through college, should be universal despite zip code or the ability of the family to pay for that education. And I personally know the benefits of attending public college at a reasonable cost. I was able to attain a bachelor's degree without debt 40 years ago because of the investment the state made in my education. Today, we are not investing in public higher education in the same way, but we should!
By creating a more level playing field, the Fair Share Amendment would provide much-needed funding to support public education at all levels. This could help us close opportunity gaps and provide students from all backgrounds - not just wealthy ones - with the opportunity to succeed.
If you have student debt and, like most AFT members, work for a public or nonprofit employer—including public and nonprofit schools, healthcare facilities, institutions of higher education, and other government or 501(c)(3) nonprofit employers—you could have your entire student debt balance forgiven, but you MUST take action before Oct. 31, 2022.
The AFT settled a landmark court case last October that set in motion an official review for all borrowers denied Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Coinciding with this settlement, the U.S. Department of Education announced major improvements to the PSLF program through a temporary waiver—changes to PSLF rules that allow borrowers to receive credit for past periods of repayment that would otherwise not qualify for PSLF—based in large part on complaints filed by borrower advocates like the AFT. But the waiver is just that—temporary—and it leaves borrowers in limbo as we wait for new regulations to take effect next July.
After a contract campaign that brought hundreds of educators, elected officials, and community members together to demand a living wage, the Lawrence Federation of Paraprofessionals (LFP) has reached a tentative agreement on a historic contract settlement. The LFP pushed for months to lift its members out of poverty and win a living wage for all members. LFP members are overwhelmingly Lawrence Residents, LPS parents, and women of color. The LFP fought to ensure that this new contract created more educational stability for students, greater support for families, and better working conditions for staff.
“Our union, over 400 members strong, sent a very clear message that when we unite as workers, we can win the wages and working conditions we all deserve,” said Suzanne Suliveras, the president of the Lawrence Federation of Paraprofessionals. “We are excited to build off this momentum to make our school community the best possible. We are now in a position where our members can focus on their jobs educating the students of Lawrence rather than how they will feed their families.”
The families of Malden and Haverhill have a right to expect the education and learning needs of their children will be addressed in the public schools. The committed teachers in those communities are fighting for their students by demanding progress at the bargaining table on essential classroom issues.
AFT Massachusetts stands in support of the teachers of Malden and Haverhill receiving fair contracts and calls on school administrators to immediately negotiate contracts that are good for students and fair to teachers.
“President’s Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan will be life-changing for tens of thousands of Massachusetts teachers, counselors, librarians, and other workers who have dedicated their lives to public service, as well as for millions of borrowers across the country who have been failed by a broken higher education funding system.
“Forgiving $10,000 of student debt for all low- and middle-income borrowers, and an additional $10,000 for Pell Grant recipients, will greatly reduce the burden of debt that is holding many borrowers back from buying a home, starting a family, or following their chosen career. By reducing costs for thousands of educators, this plan will aid educator retention and help combat the teacher and staff shortages our schools are facing. Through this plan, and through other executive actions such as reform of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, the Biden Administration is delivering transformative student debt relief where it is needed most.
Many AFT Massachusetts members spend their summers teaching summer school, but for Toni Bourgea, a veteran teacher at South Shore Vocational Technical High School in Hanover, this summer presented an incredible opportunity: teaching English to Polish and Ukrainian students in the small town of Ciezsanow, Poland, near the Polish-Ukranian border.
Toni, an English teacher and president of the union at South Shore Vocational Technical High School, used to run overseas trips for students and parents from the school, traveling to 17 countries in 7 years. When she learned about the planned trip to Poland, she jumped at the opportunity to apply
Journey to modern-day Egypt and see wonders of the ancient world like the Temple at Karnak and the Great Sphinx. Experience ancient history come to life and gaze at the Egyptian sun as it rises above the Pyramids of Giza, filling the sky with vivid color. Travel back in time 3,000 years to the 18th dynasty when King Tut ruled and gods like Ra and Anubis were worshiped by all.
Take advantage of this exclusive AFT member discount for 40% off on weekdays and 20% off on weekends! Please visit BeyondKingTut.com/city/Boston for more information. National Geographic’s Beyond King Tut: The Immersive Experience is currently open at the SoWa Power Station from now until October 2nd, 2022.
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.”