December 19, 2018
Message from AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos
As we enter our winter break to enjoy time with family and friends, let’s be thankful for our holiday meals and celebrations of all types and the freedom to celebrate in any manner we choose with anyone we choose.
Thank you for all you have done for your students each day. I know they are in your minds even as you take this break. But it is important to recharge our batteries so that we enter the New Year refreshed and energized to tackle the challenges ahead both in the classroom and in the State House where we will be fighting for FULL FUNDING for our Public Schools across our state and our nation. The American Federation of Teachers MA (AFT MA) has joined a coalition we have named “Fund Our Futures”. Along with the Boston Teachers Union, Citizens for Public Schools, Jobs With Justice, Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance (MEJA), Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts (PHENOM), and the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA), we are pressing our legislators to enact legislation that will increase the Foundation Budgets, fund the charter school reimbursements to the sending districts, and make a solid investment in our public higher education network. I look forward to seeing you at the community convenings we will host to share the plans of the Fund Our Future coalition.
Happy Holidays to you all!
AFT Massachusetts Joins ‘Fund Our Future’ Coalition to Call for Major Reinvestment in Public Education This Year
AFT Massachusetts members and leaders from around the state joined students, educators, parents, and community leaders today at the State House to call on Governor Charlie Baker and the Legislature to end the generation-long underfunding of local public schools and public colleges and universities. Advocates called for a major reinvestment in public education by May, so that local schools will see increased budgets in the upcoming school year and college students can avoid tuition hikes this fall.
“For too long, Massachusetts has failed to adequately fund our local public schools and colleges, and as a result, many students, especially in our Gateway Cities, don’t have equal opportunities for a well-rounded education,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. “They don’t have librarians or nurses. They don’t have music or art classes. Their class sizes are too big, and their school’s budgets are too small. It’s time we hold our state leaders accountable for properly funding our schools.”
Click here to read the full article.
In Times of Disaster, We’ll be There
AFT members show up BIG for each other because we care about each other.
When September’s gas explosions in Lawrence, Mass., closed schools, volunteers from surrounding communities, including teachers and staff, turned out to help at volunteer centers. Our new video about how AFT members care, fight and show up for their students and community is a must-watch
AFT Massachusetts Distributes 45,000 Free Books to Students in Salem and Peabody
The American Federation of Teachers, AFT Massachusetts, the Salem Teachers Union, and the Peabody Federation of Teachers distributed thousands of free books to local students on Saturday, December 1, 2018 through a partnership with First Book. “Teachers from across our districts were thrilled to help select books for our students to take home and read,” said Salem Teachers Union President Ann Berman. “The event was a huge success, and it felt great to be able to help so many kids and their families by giving them the gift of reading.”
Click here to read the full article.
August 1, 2017
We are very pleased to welcome the SPS Tutors/Fellows to the Springfield Federation of Paraprofessionals
November 28, 2017
AFT Massachusetts Applauds Passage and Signing of Bilingual Education Bill
BOSTON – AFT Massachusetts President Tom Gosnell today issued the following statement after Governor Baker signed An Act Relative to Language Opportunity for Our Kids, known as the LOOK Act, which will give Massachusetts schools more options and flexibility in how they educate students who are learning the English language:
“The AFT Massachusetts strongly supports the LOOK Act because it gives educators the flexibility to choose the most effective teaching method for students who are learning English. A first grader who speaks another language at home is different than a high school student who just came to our country as a refugee and doesn’t speak any English, and they shouldn’t be treated the same.”
“Each child we teach is unique, and this legislation will allow schools to use proven teaching methods to close the opportunity gap that is holding too many English language learners behind. Increasing bilingual education will also improve our students’ cultural awareness and help prepare them for today’s global economy. The more than 25,000 educators of the AFT Massachusetts appreciate the Legislature passing this important bill with such overwhelming margins and the Governor signing it.”
The AFT Massachusetts, a strong voice for collaborative education reform that is good for students and fair to educators, represents more than 25,000 public school employees, higher education faculty and staff, and public librarians.
AROS National Day of Action: January 19, 2017
The Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools (AROS) stands for fully funded public schools that provide a quality education to every child. We will not cooperate with Donald Trump’s stated plans to divert billions of public dollars to vouchers and charter schools. We will not cooperate with his hateful rhetoric and bullying of immigrant children, LGBT students, Muslims and others. We oppose the confirmation of billionaire Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. We demand safe and nurturing schools where children can learn without being frightened or harassed. We will work for policies and practices that strengthen our public schools, not dismantle them.
AFT locals across the country will be joining with SEIU and NEA locals and other AROS affiliated organizations in taking part in another nationwide Day of Action on Januray 19th, 2017.
In Massachusetts we will be using this day to continue a dialogue with parents and communities about our vision of great public schools that truly embody our Commonwealth’s constitutional obligation to "cherish" education and our public schools. While defeating Proposition 2 by a decisive margin proves that that the vast majority of Massachusetts residents want strong public schools, we need to build on this success to ensure strong education budgets at the state level and in our cities and towns, and to stop the appointment of Betsy DeVos to Secretary of Education.
Betsy DeVos’ Record: Privatizing Education and Undermining Public Schools
For decades, Betsy DeVos and her family have spent millions on an anti-public education agenda, defunding, destabilizing, and demonizing public schools and public schooling, while at the same time promoting private, for-profit schooling without any regulation, transparency, accountability, or respect for civil rights and church-state separation. DeVos has no experience in public education. She has never been a teacher, or even a student, in public schools, and did not send her children to public schools.
She has used her and her family’s considerable wealth and power to buy whatever influence they need to push this antipublic education agenda, even after it became clear that its policies—vouchers, unregulated charter schools, and prioritizing tax cuts over education funding—were having a large and negative impact on Michigan’s students, taxpayers and public schools. While the DeVos family was stymied by public will and evidence in some of its ideological pursuits, when they did succeed, it had catastrophic results for Michigan’s students—particularly the state’s poorest and most vulnerable students. Read more of AFT’s position here or the Detroit Free Press column here.
Take an action that is right for your school, your community or your city, and that reflects our commitment to protect our students, schools and communities. You know your local situation best. You know how to bring together staff, students, parents and other community members to draw attention to the need to protect our students and schools.
June 14, 2016
National Unions Coordinate Support for Orlando Community
WASHINGTON—Leaders of the American Federation of Teachers, the Florida Education Association, the National Education Association, the Service Employees International Union, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees released the following statements today on their coordinated efforts to provide support and resources to the Orlando community in the wake of Sunday’s horrific shooting. The unions have joined forces to offer counseling to members and their families who have been affected, assemble resources for parents and teachers to help children understand the news, and point supporters toward blood donation and targeted fundraising efforts.
AFT President Randi Weingarten said, “AFT members, including teachers, school staff, social workers and nurses, are on the front lines when our communities are traumatized by violence. We are committed to supporting our members; our students, patients and their families; and communities in Florida and around the country, as we grapple with this horrible act of hatred. We’re working with our state affiliate, the Florida Education Association, along with the NEA, SEIU and AFSCME, to coordinate support and resources for the Orlando community and for educators nationwide during this time of crisis. It is clear that this was an act of hatred perpetrated against the LGBT community. We will work not just to support one another, but to educate and foster acceptance and love so we can prevent hate-based crimes through understanding. Let us all find the moral courage to use this tragedy to build bridges and open our hearts, not to build walls and further hatred.”
Visit the AFT’s www.sharemylesson.com/orlando to find resources for talking to kids about the Orlando attack.
FEA President Joanne McCall, who is an AFT vice president, said, “Our hearts go out to the victims of another senseless mass shooting. We send our prayers to the victims and their families and friends and for the entire community of Orlando. We pray for an end to these all-too-familiar acts of violence. As educators, we know that violence has no place in our society.”
NEA President Lily Eskelsen García said, “Orlando, we are holding you in love. In a thousand ways, we will turn our powerful love into powerful actions and stand against the hate that was unleashed against you. Educators join Americans across this country in embracing you with prayers and support. Even in the face of such hatred and violence we will never lose hope that love conquers hate.”
Visit www.nea.org/orlando to find resources and opportunities to support the victims of the Orlando attack.
SEIU President Mary Kay Henry said, “We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in labor and in the progressive community to help communities across this country heal and recover. Together, we demand that our nation does everything to ensure that no more families have to feel this pain, sadness and loss ever again. It’s long past time for our nation to do something about gun violence in our communities. SEIU renews the commitment of our 2 million members to use every ounce of our energy to unite and fight to end this senseless gun violence and build a better future for all families.”
AFSCME President Lee Saunders said, “Our hearts go out to the victims and families of the mass shooting in Orlando, the largest atrocity of this kind in U.S. history. We thank the first responders on the scene and those around the country who never quit on their communities, especially when the unthinkable happens.
“Public service workers are steadfast in our commitment to confront the bigotry behind this attack on the LGBT community. We renew our promise to defeat this kind of hatred with the compassion we bring to our jobs every day.”
May 11, 2016 Election Results
March 6, 2016
Hello Colleagues – AFT MA belongs to Citizens for Public Schools which has done a study on the charter school claims that they have a waiting list numbering over 30,000 applicants. This study debunks the claims. Happy reading.
President AFT Massachusetts
From: [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of Lisa Guisbond
Sent: Thursday, March 03, 2016 1:41 PM
Subject: Fwd: News Release: CPS Analysis Finds Charter School Waitlist Claims Greatly Exaggerated
For immediate release, March 3, 2016
CPS Analysis Finds Charter School Waitlist Claims Greatly Exaggerated
Charter school promoters are making vastly exaggerated claims about students “trapped on waiting lists” in their campaign to lift the cap on charter schools, a Citizens for Public Schools analysis shows. Charter school promoters say the waitlists show high demand for charter seats that cannot be met without lifting the caps on how much public funding can be diverted from district schools to charter schools.
But a CPS analysis of state data suggests the number affected by the cap is less than 15,000, probably thousands less. The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (DESE) confusing and opaque reporting system makes it impossible to be precise, but CPS found:
• The waitlist count includes schools that are not Commonwealth charter schools and would not be affected if the cap were lifted.
• Of the students on waitlists for Commonwealth charter schools, many were taken from old lists, rolled over from past years with permission from DESE, even after state Auditor Suzanne Bump warned DESE against this practice.
• For most of the students on waitlists, the charter cap has nothing to do with why they were not offered seats. Lifting the cap would not affect them.
The CPS analysis comes in response to DESE’s most recent waitlist report, issued Feb. 18, 2016, which said 34,000 students were on charter waitlists. Proponents of charter school expansion cite this number in arguing for lifting the cap. They have filed legislation and proposed a ballot question to overturn the current limits on charter funding.
Not only does the case for lifting the cap rest on spurious numbers, but a 2013 study commissioned by the pro-charter Boston Foundation suggests that being on a waitlist does not necessarily mean students want to go to charter schools. They may just be keeping their options open. The study found that nearly half of the students offered seats at Boston Commonwealth charter schools through lotteries turned down the offer. The researchers also noted that “the odds of receiving a charter offer are roughly comparable to the chances of receiving a first-choice assignment in [a Boston district school].”
This year, the number of Boston students on district school waitlists is comparable to the number on Commonwealth charter school waitlists.
“Whatever the true number of students affected by the cap, this must be weighed against the tens of thousands of students who choose to attend district schools, only to have them closed or have their art or music or science or other valuable programs curtailed while public tax money is diverted to charter schools,” said CPS Executive Director Lisa Guisbond.
“We have, unfortunately, many waitlists in Massachusetts. Roughly 17,000 are on waitlists for pre-school. There is solid research showing that quality pre-school can shrink achievement gaps,” Guisbond added. “Why don’t we have a ballot question bankrolled by $18 million from wealthy financiers to cut that waitlist?”
Please click here to view the CPS analysis
January 11, 2016
From: Thomas Gosnell <>
Date: January 11, 2016 at 8:25:47 PM EST
To: Thomas Gosnell <>
Subject: FRIEDRICHS COURT CASE
Hello Colleagues – The U.S. Supreme Court heard the case today. While the tenor of the questions does not guarantee what the outcome of the case will be, the questioning was more hostile than friendly. A decision is expected in June. We need to continue the work we have always been doing so that our members will fully understand how valuable it is to have a union which fights for education, libraries, other services, and good benefits and salaries. AFT MA will keep you informed about this case.
January 10, 2016
From: Thomas Gosnell <>
Date: January 10, 2016 at 9:25:47 PM EST
To: Thomas Gosnell <>
Subject: FREIEDRICHS COURT CASE
Hello Colleagues – On Monday, January 11, 2016 the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case challenging the right of public sector unions to collect agency fee dues from individuals who don’t wish to join the Union but still receive all the benefits of the contract. In the past the Court has upheld agency fee dues, but this case is a direct assault on what the Court did in the past. Our national organization, AFT, has been very involved in trying to preserve agency fee.The case is of exceptional importance to public employee unions. AFT MA will keep you informed.
November 19, 2015
Update September 4, 2015 from August 12, 2015
There have been quite a few questions about the bi-weekly pay periods. This year we are beginning PD one week later due to the lateness of Labor Day. Therefore, we are starting work at the beginning of a pay period rather than during the second week of the pay period. As hourly employees, we are always paid the Friday after the bi-weekly payroll period is complete. Therefore, our first payroll period will begin on August 23, 2015 and end on September 4, 2015 and we will be paid on September 11, 2015 for two full weeks.
The teachers are salary and have specific language stating that their first check will be issued the first Friday of the school year. They will receive a check on September 4th but will not be issued another check until September 25th, at which time they will have waited three weeks between pays.
I requested an earlier paydate, but the district is under no legal or contractual obligation to pay their hourly employees at any time other than the posted bi-weekly pay period.
I update our website regulary, with information pertinent to the members. The information concerning the pay periods has been on our website since June. Please refer to our website for updated information. The compensation calendar and the bi-weekly payroll dates issued by the district can be found in the "Documents, Forms and Links" section.
September 1, 2015
On August 28, 2015 I spoke at Convocation. I know many of you may not have heard my speech so I have included it below. I want everyone to know that I am truly proud to represent all of you! Thank you for the honor.
GOOD MORNING AND WELCOME TO A NEW SCHOOL YEAR
I AM CATHY MASTRONARDI THE PROUD PRESIDENT OF THE SPRINGFIELD FEDERATION OF PARAPROFESSIONALS AND I AM A LIFELONG SPRINGFIELD RESIDENT WHO ATTENDED THE SPRINGFIELD PUBLIC SCHOOLS
I HAVE THE HONOR OF REPRESENTING OVER 700 FEDERATION MEMBERS WHO PROVIDE SUPPORT IN THE SPRINGFIELD PUBLIC SCHOOLS..PARA-EDUCATORS—C.N.A’S –L.PN.’S-CERTIFIED OCCUTPATIONAL THERAPY ASSISTANTS—LICENSED PHYSICAL THERAPY ASSISTANTS—
THROUGH OUR PARTNERSHIP WITH FIRST BOOK AND OUR AFFILIATION WITH THE AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS WE MADE THE DECISION TO BRING OUR MOTTO, MAKING A DIFFERNCE, TO LIFE, BY EMBARKING ON OUR TRUCK OF BOOKS FOR SPRINGFIELD INITITATIVE.
THROUGH OUR JOURNEY TO BRING THIS GIFT TO OUR KIDS WE LEARNED MANY LESSONS
WE LEARNED THAT IF YOU BELIEVE IN SOMETHING YOU CAN ACHIEVE IT.
WE LEARNED THAT YOU CAN INSPIRE OTHERS TO SHARE YOUR VISION
WE LEARNED THAT THE COMMUNITY OF SPRINGFIELD WILL COME TOGETHER TO SUPPORT AN INITIATIVE THAT WILL HELP OUR CHILDREN
THIS IS ONE OF THE 40,000 BRAND NEW FREE BOOKS THAT ARE WAITING AT SPRINGFIELD CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL FOR NEW HOMES
I REMEMBER THIS SONG — "WE SHALL OVERCOME" FROM MY DAYS AS A CHILD-WATCHING THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT UNFOLD-SINGING THIS SONG IN THE CLASSROOM AT BRUNTON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, IN THE PLAYGROUND, IN MY HOME—IT INSPIRED CHANGE
WHEN I SAW THIS BOOK IT BROUGHT BACK A LOT OF MEMORIES,
NOW IT WILL SHARE ANOTHER PLACE IN MY HEART
THIS INITIATIVE BROUGHT OUT THE BEST IN OUR COMMUNITY
IN SPRINGFIELD WE JOIN TOGETHER TO OVERCOME EVERYDAY-
WHEN WE SEE A CHALLENGE, WE WORK TOGETHER TOWARD A SOLUTION BECAUSE WE BELIEVE THAT WE CAN OVERCOME.
SPRINGFIELD IS A GREAT COMMUNITY BECAUSE WE BELIEVE IN OUR CHILDREN AND WE WORK TO INSPRIRE THEM SO THAT THEY CAN SUCCEED.
TOMORROW AT CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL WE WILL OPEN THE DOORS AT 10 AM AND ALLOW OUR CHILDREN UNPRECENTED ACCESS TO BOOKS. BECAUSE WE WORKED TOGETHER WITH THE DISTRICT, THE CITY, THE SPRINGFIELD EDUCATION ASSOCIATION AND NUMEROUS OTHER LABOR AND COMMUNITY GROUPS, OUR CHILDREN WILL HAVE FREE BRAND NEW BOOKS IN THEIR HOMES THAT WE HOPE THEY WILL READ AND CHERISH.
WE BELIEVE THAT THIS WILL INSPIRE OUR KIDS TO BECOME LIFELONG READERS AND LEADERS. THEY ARE OUR FUTURE.
THIS INITIATIVE WAS A SUCCESS BECAUSE MANY GROUPS TOOK PART.
IN THE SCHOOLS WE ISSUED A CHALLENGE TO SEE WHICH SCHOOLS COULD REGISTER THE LARGEST PERCENTAGE OF THEIR STAFF WITH FIRST BOOK.
THE SCHOOLS WERE CATEGORIZED IN THREE GROUPS BASED ON THE TOTAL NUMBER OF STAFF MEMBERS.
THE THREE RUNNERS UP EACH RECEIVED 50 BOOKS FOR THEIR SCHOOLS:
THOSE SCHOOLS ARE
BOWLES ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
SUMNER AVENUE SCHOOL
HIGH SCHOOL OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLGY
TWO OF THE WINNING SCHOOLS,
ELLS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL AND CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL,
EACH RECEIVED $150.00 GIFT CERTIFICATES TO FIRST BOOK
THE GRAND PRIZE WINNER
IN WHICH 100% OF STAFF REGISTERE
IS GLICKMAN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.
GLICKMAN RECEIVED A $200.00 GIFT CERTIFICATE AND THE BUILDING REPRESENTATIVE AT GLICKMAN
RECEIVED A $100.00 GIFT CERTIFICATE TO USE FOR BOOKS IN HER CLASSROOM.
CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OF WINNERS!
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT
WE DID IT!
I WISH YOU ALL A SUCCESSFUL SCHOOL YEAR!
July 25, 2015
Thank you for your tireless advocacy over the past several months. As a result, I have exciting news to share.
Last week, the Senate, by an overwhelming bipartisan vote (81-17), passed the Every Child Achieves Act—a bill overhauling No Child Left Behind, as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is currently known. And earlier this month, the House of Representatives passed its version of an ESEA reauthorization bill.
While the House bill has significant problems, the House and Senate will soon meet to bridge their differences and create a single bill to send to the president. This means we are closer to getting a much-needed reset in our federal education policy than we have been in more than 14 years.
Help us by sending a thank-you to the senators who voted for this bill and urging those who voted “no” not to stand in the way of approving the reset we all need.
We couldn’t have gotten this far without your help.
Our members and activists—more than 100,000 people just like you—sent letters, made calls, held meetings with members of Congress, organized lobby days and spoke up on social media. The Every Child Achieves Act is stronger because of it.
The Senate bill protects ESEA’s original intent of providing extra support to the kids who need it most. It stops the federal secretary of education from closing schools or dictating teacher evaluations, and resets accountability by eliminating the test-and-punish policies that have narrowed curriculum but not the achievement gap.
See how your senators voted and send them a message.
Getting this result was not easy. Although the Senate bill has bipartisan support, it was a dogfight every day.
Thanks to your hard work, we were part of the discussions in a real way. Now, as the House and Senate go to conference committee, we will urge conferees to use the Senate bill as the basis of any final agreement.
This framework gives us the best chance to get a final bill for the president’s signature that includes what Americans need and want:
No more NCLB, Race to the Top or waivers.
No more mandatory teacher evaluation from the federal government.
No more federal school closings.
No more federal accountability system that applies to the whole country.
New authorization for full-service community schools and early childhood programs.
Ability for districts to study workplace conditions and supports.
And—while the funding levels have not increased—no school districts will lose money.
Our work is not done; we still have to get through conference and get a bill signed into law. But we are off to a great start.
Send the senators who helped make this happen a thank-you note, and remind those who voted NO that they are standing in the way of getting us the much-needed reset we have been working toward for more than a decade.
June 24, 2015
We won a HUGE arbitration today that will positively impact all of the members of our unit! It was found that the School Committee in Springfield violated Article III of our CBA and unilaterally changed a past practice regarding FMLA. The School Committee has been instructed to rescind their policy of automatically denying FMLA based solely on the 1,250 hour rule.
This arbitration is beneficial to our Local for many reasons:
As the employer did not respond to the request of the local to supply information related to the case, the local reached out to the members and the members responded. The arbitrator states in her brief that the union proved "by a preponderance of evidence" that the past practice had been established. Without the members joining together, providing their own evidence and helping to collect evidence we would have never won. I can't say it often enough, when we work together, we make a difference.
This is a huge benefit for our members. Members will now be eligible for intermittent FMLA approved leave, a necessity that had been denied to them in the past few years. Members with less than three years of service who are otherwise eligible will be entitled to FMLA approved leave. No longer will the district be able to deny FMLA leave based solely on the 1,250 hour rule and then discipline the individual because of their attendance. Evaluations will no longer be negatively impacted by FMLA approved leave absences.
A great victory was won by our local today because we worked together against injustice!
June 22, 2015
MAY 15, 2015
City school children can receive up to 120,000 books
May 14, 2015 | G. Michael Dobbs
SPRINGFIELD – The city’s school children may the recipients of anywhere from 40,000 to 120,000 books if the city’s adults who work with children sign up for a new program.
Catherine Mastronardi, president of the Springfield Federation of Paraprofessionals, kicked off the campaign with a book-reading event at the Frank H. Freedman School on May 8.
She explained the book campaign is through First Book, a national literacy program. For every 2,000 adults who sign up at the organization will supply the city’s school with 40,000 books. Considering the number of adults who qualify by working with children in the state’s second largest school district – teachers, support staff, employees at libraries, museums, shelters clinics, early childhood programs and faith-based organizations – Mastronardi believes the district could see as many as 80,000 or 120,000 books.
She said that statistics about low income and book ownership indicate that 22,000 of the city’s school children do not own a book of their own. Books in the home are an important part of improving literacy she added.
The registration for the program is free and besides helping the city qualify for free books, it also allows registrants to buy books themselves.
Mastronardi said there is no formal deadline but she is hoping people will sign up before the end of the school year so the books will be delivered to the city by the end of August and the beginning of a new school year.
“It’s a great program,” she said.
MARCH 13, 2015
"Hello Colleagues – I am enclosing an updated version of the changes in benefits voted by the Group Insurance Commission (GIC). The changes take effect on July 1, 2015. Email Field Representative Andy Powell at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions. The GIC has the final word.
Governor Baker has submitted legislation to require all active employees in the GIC to pay 25% of their health insurance premiums. In addition, he wants all new retirees in the GIC as of July 1, 2015 to pay 25% of their health insurance premiums. To take effect the legislature must approve these proposals. The labor unions have already met to develop a strategy to defeat them.
This link will bring you to a spreadsheet detailing the new premiums for the GIC Final Combined Rates-Fiscal Year 2016. Look at the tabs on the bottom of the workbook to locate the page on which your premiums can be found.
March 9, 2015
American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts Statement on Legal Challenge to Charter School Cap
BOSTON – American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts President Tom Gosnell today released the following statement about the pending legal challenge to the state’s charter school cap:
“The goals set forth in the 1993 McDuffy decision cited by the litigants are not being met today in public schools across the state because of years of chronic underfunding. Twenty-two years after the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the Commonwealth had failed its constitutional duty to provide all students with the opportunity to receive an adequate education, students from low-income communities still attend schools with fewer resources than many of their peers.
“Traditional public schools that accept all students find themselves financially swamped. Over the past decade alone, the state has cut local aid up to 40 percent. We don’t need lawsuits, we need investment. Taking more money away from our local public schools will only hurt the students who rely on them.”
The AFT Massachusetts, a strong voice for collaborative education reform that is good for students and fair to educators, represents over 25,000 public school employees and higher education faculty and staff.
March 3, 2015
Victory Today in the U.S. House of Representatives!
SENT ON BEHALF OF RANDI WEINGARTEN
As the House of Representatives continues debate on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (HR 5), we have some important news to report. We still can't support HR 5 because it doesn't require states to equitably fund schools; redirects essential funding for disadvantaged children to other uses; doesn't hold states accountable for funding; and doesn't do what's needed to bring the accountability system into the 21st century so that teaching, not testing, is paramount. Even with that, we do have some good news. First, the bill does not include any mandatory federal teacher evaluation program. In addition, we won a vote that put a provision back into the bill affirming that nothing in the bill could override local or state collective bargaining agreements.
But the victory I want to highlight is the 218-201 vote in the House to restore the qualification requirements for paraprofessionals working in high-poverty schools-requirements that had been removed from the legislation. The AFT has been an advocate of standards for paraprofessionals for more than 35 years-an effort led by our own Secretary-Treasurer Lorretta Johnson when she served on a national task force on paraprofessional certification in 1979. AFT knew that instructional paraprofessionals served vital roles in schools and to preserve those roles, standards were needed to define the basic skills required for entry into the profession and specify appropriate pre- and in-service training.
While there is much we didn't like about No Child Left Behind, the one thing we did come to appreciate was the creation of the standard that finally stopped school districts from hiring paraprofessionals with little experience in education and mandated they provide training. Not only did we save something really important for the workforce and for kids, we also fought and beat the House Republican leadership who opposed the amendment.
How did we do it? By doing what unions do best. We represented our members and the children they teach. We called our elected officials. We took advantage of social media, in just a few days generating 10,000-plus letters to Congress and countless tweets. We formed alliances with members of the disabilities and civil rights communities who shared our concerns. We should be proud.
A link to the vote is attached (also see picture below sent to us from the House floor right after the vote). We will send a fuller summary of our activity on the bill once the House completes action. http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2015/roll098.xml
The AFT was the first union to organize paraprofessionals and school-related personnel. Tonight's victory is a good reminder of that proud history.