“Let our voices be heard. I hope they will not be shrill voices, but, I hope we shall speak with such conviction that those to whom we speak shall know of the strength of our feeling and the sincerity of our efforts. ”

 

― Gordon B. Hinckley

June 20, 2017

February 26, 2017

January 10, 2017

 

Add Your Name: Commit to Student Success

Read our letter, then add your name to stand with us: These are our values, and I demand that our secretary of education and every elected official respect and uphold this vision for high-quality public schools for every single student.

Open Letter: A Commitment to Student Success in Public Schools

Public education is the foundation of our 21st-century democracy. Our public schools are where our students come to be educated in the fullest sense of that word, including as citizens of this great country. We strive every day to make every public school a place where we prepare the nation’s young people to contribute to our society, economy and citizenry. We expect our elected leaders and policymakers, regardless of party affiliation, to value and support this American vision for a strong and inclusive public education system that ensures that all students can succeed, regardless of their ZIP code.

With the recent nomination of Betsy DeVos as U.S. secretary of education, the nation is entering dangerous, uncharted territory. For the first time, our secretary of education could be someone whose sole “qualification” for the job is the two decades she has spent attempting to dismantle the American public school system.

DeVos has used her extraordinary wealth to undermine our public schools and, in so doing, has harmed our students. She and her family have spent millions to promote failed private school vouchers and unaccountable for-profit charter schools while working to destabilize and defund public education. This is a dangerous direction that will do nothing to help our most vulnerable students and will exacerbate glaring opportunity gaps.

We call on DeVos and political leaders at every level to commit to the American vision of public education for all—one that welcomes and includes students of all backgrounds, identities, origins and abilities. Our leaders must understand that our students and communities need schools that answer to them and their elected representatives. This compact is undermined when billionaires, corporations, hedge fund managers and others seek to substitute their will for that of educators and the people and communities who rely on our public schools. Ninety percent of American children attend public schools. They deserve leaders who are committed to building up our students with supportive policies that ensure equal opportunity rather than continuing discriminatory policies that abandon the students who need us most.

We hold these values because all children, regardless of family circumstances or where they live, have the right to an education that helps them reach their full potential and does not depend on living in advantaged circumstances, getting accepted by a private school or being selected in a charter school lottery.

The record is clear: Betsy DeVos is an anti-public education activist. A true leader for all students must reject the ideological demands that isolate, outsource and abandon, and instead commit to this American vision for public education.

Today, we call on you to add your name to join with educators, parents, students and all public education supporters to say: These are our values, and I demand that our secretary of education and every elected official respect and uphold this vision for high-quality public schools for every single student.

 

OCTOBER 30, 2016

 

 

This is a fairly comprehensive list of everything we’ll need help for between now and E-Day.  We also need people to check poll numbers at certain “bellwether” polling locations on Election Day at 10:00, 1:00, and 4:00.  The numbers for these locations are very important because they help the campaign direct resources in real time.  Please let me know what you can do.  Thank you!

Eric Bauer eric@massjwj.org

Organizer, Massachusetts Jobs with Justice

(413) 363-3303

 

Monday, October 31

12:00-2:00

Retiree Phone Bank

MTA Office, 55 Bobala Rd, Holyoke

4:00-6:00

Easthampton Phone Bank

Luthier’s Co-op, 108 Cottage St, Easthampton

4:00-6:00

Holyoke Phone Bank

MTA Office, 55 Bobala Rd, Holyoke

Tuesday, November 1

4:00-7:00

Eric Lesser/No On 2 Canvass

Sen. Eric Lesser’s Campaign HQ, 60 Shaker Rd, East Longmeadow

4:00-7:30

Holyoke Phone Bank

MTA Office, 55 Bobala Rd, Holyoke

5:30-7:30

Westfield Phone Bank

Rep. John Velis’s Office, 52 Court St, Westfield

5:30-8:00

Northampton Phone Bank

MNA Office, Potpourri Plaza, 241 King St, Northampton

Wednesday, November 2

4:00-7:30

Holyoke Phone Bank

MTA Office, 55 Bobala Rd, Holyoke

4:30-7:30

Pittsfield Phone Bank

MTA Office, 188 East St, Pittsfield

5:30-7:30

Greenfield Phone Bank

SEIU 888 Office, 70 Federal St #5, Greenfield

5:30-7:30

West Springfield Phone Bank

Rep. Mike Finn's Office, 71 Park Ave, West Springfield

5:30-8:00

Spanish Dialer with Jobs With Justice

Salsarengue Restaurant, 392 High St, Holyoke

Thursday, November 3

4:00-7:00

UFCW/JWJ Canvass

Holyoke High School, 500 Beech St, Holyoke

4:00-7:30

Holyoke Phone Bank

MTA Office, 55 Bobala Rd, Holyoke

4:30-7:30

Springfield Phone Bank

SEA Office, 1000 Wilbraham Rd, Springfield

5:00-8:00

Amherst Phone Bank

4 County Circle, Hampshire House, UMass Amherst

5:30-8:00

Phone Bank with Arise & JWJ

Arise, 467 State St, Springfield

Friday, November 4

4:00-7:30

Holyoke Phone Bank

MTA Office, 55 Bobala Rd, Holyoke

Saturday, November 5

10:00-4:00

Rosemary Sandlin/No On 2 Canvass

Corinne Wingard’s House, 194 Elm St, Agawam

10:30-12:30

Greenfield Canvass

GCC Downtown Campus, 270 Main St, Greenfield

10:30-1:30

Eric Lesser/No On 2 Canvass

Eric Lesser Campaign HQ, 60 Shaker Rd, East Longmeadow

10:30-1:30

Holyoke Canvass

Holyoke High School, 500 Beech St, Holyoke

10:30-1:30

Amherst Canvass

Amherst Farmers Market

10:30-1:30

Northampton Canvass

Potpourri Plaza parking lot, 241 King St (across from Stop & Shop)

1:30-4:30

Springfield Canvass

Smead Arena, 1780 Roosevelt Ave, Springfield

2:00-5:00

Pittsfield Canvass

Democratic Campaign Office, 111 South St, Pittsfield

Sunday, November 6

10:00-4:00

Rosemary Sandlin/No On 2 Canvass

Corinne Wingard’s House, 194 Elm St, Agawam

10:30-1:30

Greenfield Canvass

GCC Downtown Campus, 270 Main St, Greenfield

12:00-3:00

Holyoke Canvass

Dino's Pizza, 615 Homestead Ave, Holyoke

3:00-6:00

Holyoke Canvass

Dino's Pizza, 615 Homestead Ave, Holyoke

Monday, November 7

ALL DAY

PHONE BANKS

SEA Office, 1000 Wilbraham Rd, Springfield

MTA Office, 55 Bobala Rd, Holyoke

MTA Office, 188 East St, Pittsfield

5:00-8:00

Easthampton Phone Bank

Luthier’s Co-op, 108 Cottage St, Easthampton

LATE NIGHT

DOOR HANGERS

 

ELECTION DAY

EARLY MORNING

DOOR HANGERS

 

ALL DAY

PHONE BANKS

SEA Office, 1000 Wilbraham Rd, Springfield

MTA Office, 55 Bobala Rd, Holyoke

MTA Office, 188 East St, Pittsfield

Campus Center, UMass Amherst

SEIU 888 Office, 70 Federal St #5, Greenfield

MNA Office, Potpourri Plaza, 241 King St, Northampton

Week of Action-June 6th -10th, 2016

                                                                              

GOAL: Connect Save Our Public Schools to local education issues and the November ballot question

 

Participation in the Week of Action can take many forms. Some people might participate only through social media. Others might connect a local event (e.g., School Committee meeting, contract negotiations) to the campaign by holding signs and wearing SOPS stickers. Use your imagination and be creative..

 

Day 1 — Fully Fund Public Schools                                                                             Monday, June 6

Go here to find out how much your district is losing and share that information on social media. Hold a sign describing unmet needs in your district that could be addressed with funding lost to charters.  

Ask: How much is your district losing to charters? Highlight what you would do with that funding

 

Day 2 — The Schools We Deserve (and Those We Don’t)                                    Tuesday, June 7

Highlight success stories and your vision for excellent public schools for all. Contrast with the challenges facing parents and students in charter schools that use hyper discipline and teach to the test.

Ask: Tell us what your public school does well and why the goal is excellent public schools for all.

 

Day 3 — Keep It Local                                                                                             Wednesday, June 8

Highlight the importance of keeping local control of education and the negative impact that lifting the cap would have on your community. Thank your School Committee members if they have passed a resolution; ask them to consider passing one if they haven’t.

Ask: Contact your School Committee: Say thank you or ask them to take action.

 

Day 4—Spread the Word                                                                                        Thursday, June 9

Ask people to talk to 10 friends, family members or peers about the November ballot question to help us with the Save Our Public Schools Campaign.

Ask: Talk to 10 people about keeping the cap on charter schools.

 

Day 5 — Stick to Public Schools (Sticker Day)                                                      Friday, June 10

Wear “Save Our Public Schools” stickers and/or hold signs to promote visibility. Take photos of members/community residents wearing stickers and post/tweet pictures. Don’t forget to use #keepthecap and tag @SOPublicSchools.

Ask: Wear a sticker, hold a sign, take a selfie. E-mail your photos.

June 3, 2016

Hello Colleagues – The State Senate has passed a budget which contains a number of items we strongly supported.

 

   1. School Funding – The change in the definition of poverty meant that many school districts would be financially hurt. The budget basically holds all districts harmless.

 

   2. Retirees’ Pensions – The budget continues to prevent cities and towns from raising unilaterally the premium split. If they could do so, retirees could pay a higher percentage of their premiums.

 

    3. District Determined Measures (DDMs) – The Senate has refused to continue their funding. AFT MA has sent an email urging you to contact your state representative.

 

    4. These items will go a Conference Committee of the House of Representatives and the State Senate. The Committee will report to both branches sometime in June.

 

   5. Our lobbyists will be working to keep these items in the final budget.

 

                                     Have a good month of June.

 

                                                                Tom Gosnell

 

June 1, 2016

 

The Massachusetts Final House Budget No. 4201 allocated $18,589,713.00 for the Kindergarten Grant program but when the Massachusetts Senate voted on their budget they rejected the proposed amendment to increase the Kindergarten Grant funding.

The budget is now in Conference Committee. Please contact your Senators and Representative and urge them to contact their Committee members and ask them to support funding the Kindergarten Grant program at the same level as the Final House Budget No. 4201 in the amount of $18,589,713.00. Senators Lesser and Welch proposed the increase in the Senate that was later rejected. Please thank them for their support!

 

We all know that we need that extra money to keep our full day Kindergarten programs in place in Springfield. Many para-educators work in those programs and without the additional funds our children will be at risk!

Last year we did such a great job contacting our Senators and Representatives urging them to support our full day Kindergarten programs, that the money was restored! I know that together we can do that again!

To find your legislators please use this link:https://malegislature.gov/People/Search

Senators and Representatives for Springfield are:

Senator Eric Lesser Call:413-526-6501 or email: eric.lesser@masenate.gov

Senator James Welch Call: 413-737-7756 or email:James.Welch@masenate.gov

Representative Angelo Puppolo Call:413-596-4333 email:Angelo.Puppolo@mahouse.gov

Representative Thomas Petrolati: Call 413-589-7303 email: Thomas.Petrolati@mahouse.gov

Representative Benjamin Swan: Call 413-739-8547 email: Benjamin.Swan@mahouse.gov

Representative Michael Finn: Call 413-363-1965 email: Michael.Finn@mahouse.gov

Representative Jose Tosado: Call 413-788-0683 email: Jose.Tosado@mahouse.gov

Representative Carlos Gonzalez: Call 413-251-0007 email: Carlos.Gonzalez@mahouse.gov

You may also contact:

Senator Stanley Rosenberg, President of the Senate Call 413-584-1649 or email Stan.Rosenberg@masenate.gov

Representative Robert DeLeo, Speaker of the House, Call 781-289-8965 or email Robert.DeLeo@mahouse.gov

Senator Karen Spilka, Senate Ways and Means Chair, Call 617-722-1640 or email Karen.Spilka@masenate.gov

Representative Brian Dempsey, House Ways and Means Chair, Call 617-722-2990 or email Brian.Dempsey@mahouse.gov

You may use the following letter if you wish to email your representatives. You may also wish to include the name of your school in your signature.


Dear Senator (or Representative):

I am writing to urge you to request that the Conference Committee support your proposal for state funding for Kindergarten Expansion Grant in the FY17 Budget (Line Item 7030-1002) in the amount of $18,589,713.00 as put forth in the Final House Budget No. 4201.

State funding for Full-Day Kindergarten (FDK) is essential to Springfield families. Together with local school district resources, state funds help the Springfield Public Schools provide an outstanding FDK program that helps our youngest students get the best start on their education and their lives.

Research shows that Full Day Kindergarten provides long term benefits to all students - increased student achievement, improved school attendance, reduced retention and remediation, and more.

State funding supports Quality Full Day Kindergarten in communities across the Commonwealth. Our State has made great progress in the provision of FDK. We don't want to lose ground in our efforts to achieve FDK for ALL children in Massachusetts!

Thank you for your support. We invite you to come visit our FDK program at your earliest opportunity!

Sincerely,

May 23, 2016

Hello Colleagues – The AFL-CIO is spearheading a drive to protect health insurance for retirees. This is the request from the AFL-CIO.

 

A budget amendment is being filed by Senator Tom McGee, Amendment #91, to extend the current moratorium that prevents cities and towns from raising retiree health insurance premium splits up to 50% for an additional two years to July 1, 2018. We are currently seeking co-sponsors for Senator McGee’s amendment. Please call your State Senator and ask her/him to support/co-sponsor the amendment by calling Senator McGee’s office at 617-722-1350.

 

                                                                Tom Gosnell


May 18, 2016 

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT - FAIR SHARE TAX

 

Hello Colleagues – The House of Representatives and the State Senate meeting in a constitutional convention voted overwhelmingly to take a step to put the fair share tax on the ballot in 2018. Another vote is required in 2017 or 2018 to put it on the ballot in 2018. This tax, also called the millionaire’s tax, would require those whose earned income is over 1 million dollars to pay 4% more in income tax on the portion over a million dollars. The additional revenue would be targeted for public education and for roads, bridges, and public transportation.   

 

                                                                Tom Gosnell

March 8, 2016

Dear PWFA Coalition Partners,

 

We’d like to catch you up with the latest Mass. Pregnant Workers Fairness Act news.

As you likely remember, the bill was reported favorably out of the Joint Committee for Labor and Workforce Development last July and was recommended to the House Ways and Means Committee. Now the time has come for us to make some noise and get the bill moved to the House floor for a vote! Can you please share the following email/Facebook post and supporting materials (letter template and PWFA fact sheet) with your members?

 

Let’s let our legislators know that we are paying attention and ready for this bill to pass!

Thank you for everything you do on behalf of pregnant workers.

 

In solidarity,

Laura Sylvester

Liz Friedman

Linda O’Connell

Lisa Newman

Shannon Rudder

MotherWoman Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Organizing Committee

 

CALL TO ACTION!

HELP US PASS the MA Pregnant Workers Fairness Act!

 

The MA Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will protect pregnant workers from losing their job or being forced onto unpaid leave for asking for simple accommodations related to their condition – like a stool to sit on or extra water breaks.

Moms-to-be need a fair deal in the workplace so they don’t have to choose between their health or their paycheck. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (H 1769) will do just that.

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

 

1. CALL or WRITE House Speaker DeLeo and House Ways & Means Committee leadership and ask them to release the bill for a vote. 

 

2. CALL or WRITE your own legislators expressing support for the bill.

 

 

Let's give Massachusetts' pregnant workers and their families the protection and the economic security they deserve. 

 

 

 

Laura Sylvester

MotherWoman Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Organizing Committee

www.motherwoman.org 
Masters in Public Health and Public Policy and Administration Candidate
University of Massachusetts Amherst
www.linkedin.com/in/laurasylvester28
(413) 535-5533

 

January 12, 2016

 

SOCIAL SECURITY FOR TEACHERS AND OTHER PUBLIC SERVANTS

 

Educators are already underpaid and those who have worked outside the pension system shouldn't be penalized. This legislation is old and refers to a time when most educators were "career" educators. After working in education they retired with large pensions and lifetime healthcare benefits. This is not the situation today. What was called a "windfall elimination" in the 90s is not appropriate in the current economy. Educators who have worked 5 years under the pension program give up about 85% of their previously earned Social Security benefits. There is no windfall for "second career" teachers.

This also affects our police, firefighters and other public servants who deserve to retire with dignity.

 

Ask Congress to pass H.R.711 - Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act of 2015 currently in the ways and means committee of the 114th Congress (2015-2016) and repeal WEP/GPO from the Social Security Act. Teachers deserve the full Social Security they have paid in.

 

November 19, 2015

 

Hi All –

 

The Executive Board of AFT MA has endorsed Dennis Naughton and Jacqueline Gorrie for seats on the MTRB. Retired teachers from the Boston public schools belong to the Boston Retirement System and do not vote for seats on this Board. Practically all other retired public school teachers belong to the MTRS. Ballots have been mailed and must be received back by 5 pm on December 10, 2015. Directions for voting electronically came with the ballot. Please share with your membership.

 

Both Dennis Naughton and Jacqueline Gorrie are retired teachers who have been long committed to a strong retirement system for teachers. See their statements at www.mass.gov/mtrs. Press number 2 on the home page.  

 

                                                                Tom Gosnell

                                                                617-423-3342

September 25, 2015

 

Our children are back in school, and Congress is back in Washington. I know that both will be incredibly busy this fall.

 

Our kids will be learning valuable new skills, making new friends and getting the high-quality public education they deserve.

 

Congress also has a busy agenda this fall—and one item that cannot wait is fixing No Child Left Behind.

Urge Congress to fix No Child Left Behind this fall and finish the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

 

New research shows that Americans want more focus on school funding and less on high-stakes testing, that 63 percent of Americans oppose vouchers and that 78 percent say student engagement is a better measurement of learning than test scores.

 

That’s why America’s students, parents and educators need a new law that ends the failed policies of No Child Left Behind, including high-stakes testing and mandatory school closings; preserves equity; and helps ensure a high-quality education for all our children.

 

Write your members of Congress now urging them to fix No Child Left Behind.

Great progress has already been made: Both the House and the Senate passed their own ESEA proposals this past July. Now is the time for Congress to finish the job by producing a final product that takes the best of both bills and delivering a bipartisan bill to the president’s desk this fall.

 

Let’s fix No Child Left Behind. Let’s get it done. For our kids. Write your members of Congress today.

 

In unity,


Randi Weingarten

AFT President

Update July 29, 2015

 

The Senate agreed with the House and overrode Baker's veto of the kindergarten expansion grant program. The Senate vote was unanimous, 38-0.

 

Senate President Stan Rosenberg, D-Amherst, issued the following statement: "If we're serious about closing the income inequality gap, expanding educational opportunities for working families must be an important priority. By overriding the Governor's ill-advised education vetoes, we're helping middle class kids get the tools they will need to prosper in a demanding and competitive economy."

 

We made our voices heard and our legislators heard us and responded. They voted to fund the future, our children!

July 25, 2015

SEIU LOCAL 509 HAS REQUESTED OUR SUPPORT

 

With operations in Amherst, Athol, Florence, Greenfield, Northampton, Orange, Pittsfield and Springfield, clinicians and crisis workers at Clinical & Support Optionsprovide critical mental health and crisis intervention services for thousands of at-risk children and families throughout Western Massachusetts. Yet, despite the vital role they play in the community, many front-line workers at CSO struggle just to make ends meet – with nearly a third of agency staff earning close to poverty wages. Making matters worse, agency CEO Karin Jeffers and her management team have proposed to spike so-called ‘productivity requirements’ that front-line staff say increase stress and reduce the quality of care. The challenges have led to serious concerns over staff turnover and continuity of client services.

 

It’s time to value mental health care and crisis services!

 

 

“We’re working day-in, day-out with individuals and families who are struggling with mental health issues. Consistency and continuity of care is absolutely critical,” said Stephanie Agnew, a Northampton-based Outpatient Clinician. “Our clients need to know that we’ll stick with them through their challenges – and right now, high turnover and workplace pressures are putting that care at risk.”

 

Add your voice in support of these workers by sending your message today to CEO Karin Jeffers. Ask her to repect and value these critical services ! 

 

 

 

July 24, 2015

 

What are the most valuable resources for your family? For mine—and many others—those things are time together and money to keep food on the table and the bills paid. Unfortunately, because of old overtime pay rules, lots of working families are missing out on both.

 

The Department of Labor (DOL) recently unveiled new regulations aimed at strengthening overtime pay protections so workers who make lower wages don’t end up putting in overtime hours for free. And right now everybody (including you!) has a chance to weigh in. Add your voice to this fight and let the DOL know where you stand.

 

Click here to send a comment to the Department of Labor telling them to strengthen overtime pay protections.

 

As a parent, I know how precious spending time with family is—and I hate the idea that millions of working people have this time taken from them and are not even being paid for it. And I know that lots of mothers and fathers are working as hard as they can, and still barely making poverty wages. It’s just not right.

When workers are made to work overtime without pay, they miss out on quality time with their loved ones and have more trouble caring for those loved ones properly. No one who goes to work full time should be living in poverty.

 

While I still believe we can do more to help working families make ends meet, the new rules are a step in the right direction that will automatically extend overtime protection to at least five million additional workers and secure the overtime rights of another ten million. They will get more money by being compensated for working overtime, or more time to spend with their families. Either way, it’s a win because workers  will no longer run the risk of being wrongly denied overtime.

 

These new rules are a good start—but we can still do even better for working families. Leave a comment for the Department of Labor telling them to strengthen overtime pay protections now.

 

In Solidarity,
Damon Silvers
Director of Policy, AFL-CIO

July 23, 2015

 

More than 65,000 people have signed the petition asking Congress to close the loophole that allows thousands of dangerous people -- including the Charleston shooter -- to buy guns with an incomplete background check every year.

 

Will you add your name?

Automatically sign the petition asking Congress to close this deadly loophole now by passing "No check, no sale" legislation.

 

New legislation has been introduced in Congress that says gun dealers can't make a sale until a background check is completed. And newspapers across the country -- including The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal -- are shining a light on the consequences of this deadly loophole.

Closing the Charleston loophole is a common-sense measure that will stop dangerous people from buying guns.

 

Ask Congress to close the Charleston loophole now. Click the link below to automatically add your name:

Automatically sign the petition asking Congress to close this deadly loophole now by passing "No check, no sale" legislation.

 

 

Thanks,

Brina Milikowsky
Chief Strategy Officer
Everytown for Gun Safety

July 22, 2015

 

Last year, the top 25 hedge fund managers in the United States earned more than every kindergarten teacher in America combined.

 

Despite their huge paychecks, they pay a lower effective tax rate than most middle-class families. And thanks to a tax loophole that lets them pretend to run offshore reinsurance firms, they’re dodging even more taxes.

 

The Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department are considering a proposal to close the reinsurance loophole.

 

Sign our petition to the IRS and Treasury urging them to close this loophole!

 

Reinsurance firms offer insurance to insurance companies. But more often than not, the companies that hedge fund managers set up are just a way to wash their money and avoid capital gains taxes. This enables hedge fund managers to pay minimal amounts in taxes on their huge earnings.

Hedge fund managers don’t need the additional benefit of funneling their earnings through an offshore reinsurance company so that they can further reduce their taxes. The IRS and the Treasury Department have a duty to preserve fairness in the tax code, and the hedge fund reinsurance loophole is plainly unfair.

 

Former U.S. Rep. David Camp has a three-prong test that would prevent abuses and ensure tax fairness. Under that test, “an insurance company would have to have more than 50 percent of its gross receipts consist of insurance premiums, have insurance liabilities equal to 35 percent of its total assets, and be subject to tax as an insurer if it were a U.S. business.”

 

Sign this petition urging the IRS and Treasury to close the reinsurance loophole!

 

The IRS and the Treasury Department should do the fair thing for the American people by closing this loophole. It’s only fair that people making so much money should be playing by the same rules as the rest of us.

 

In unity,

 

Lynne Audet
National Board Certified Teacher, Perth Amboy, N.J.

July 20, 2015

 

Governor Baker cut $17.5 million from the grant program used by communities to fund full-day public kindergarten. Baker also vetoed $1.2 million in programs for English Language Learners in Gateway Cities, such as Holyoke and Springfield. 

 

Contact your State Senators and Representatives and ask them to override the Governor's veto.  Call, email, text, tweet. 

 

Please remind them that the children in Springfield, Massachusetts need this funding.  Urge them to overide the Governor's vetoes.

 

 

 

May 15, 2015

 

Funding for Full Day Kindergarten is in Jeopardy!  We need you to take action now!  The Senate Ways and Means FY16 Budget recommended a 95% cut to the FDK budget line item that would be a devastating blow to Kindergarteners and their families across Massachusetts!

Please contact your state Senators right away and urge them to:

 

Co-sponsor FY16 Senate Budget Amendment #549 filed by Senator Brian Joyce, to fund Full-Day Kindergarten at the same level ($18,589,713) 

and with the same language as the House FY16 budget.

 

Full-day kindergarten grants help support program quality and transition districts from half-day to full-day kindergarten. High-quality full-day kindergarten is an essential component of the birth – third grade early learning trajectory.

 

Spread the word to parents and other community members who care about high quality Full Day Kindergarten!  A sample letter of support is below.

 

If you use this link and search by location using your zip code, you can find the contact information for your state senators . 

 

Dear Senator,

 

I am writing to urge you to support state funding for Full-Day Kindergarten in the FY16 Budget (Line Item 7030-1002).   Please Co-sponsor FY16 Senate Budget Amendment #549 , filed by Senator Brian Joyce, to fund Full-Day Kindergarten at the same level ($18,589,713) and with the same language as the House FY16 budget.

 

State funding for Full-Day Kindergarten (FDK) is essential to Springfield families.  Together with local school district resources, state funds help the Springfield Public Schools provide an outstanding FDK program that helps our youngest students get the best start on their education and their lives.  

 

Research shows that Full Day Kindergarten provides long term benefits to all students - increased student achievement, improved school attendance, reduced retention and remediation, and more.   

 

State funding supports Quality Full Day Kindergarten in communities across the Commonwealth.  Our State has made great progress in the provision of FDK.  We don't want to lose ground in our efforts to achieve FDK for ALL children in Massachusetts!

 

I urge you to support Senate Budget Amendment #549 to support FY 16 state funding for Full Day Kindergarten ($18,589,713) with the House budget language.

 

Thank you for your support.  We invite you to come visit our FDK program at your earliest opportunity!

 

Sincerely,

 

 

April 22, 2015-Update on Massachusetts Budget

 

"HELLO ALL – THE HOUSE BUDGET DOES NOT INCLUDE THE GOVERNOR’S INCREASE IN THE PREMIUM SPLIT WHICH WOULD REQUIRE MANY OF THOSE IN THE GIC TO PAY A GREATER SHARE OF THEIR PREMIUM. AFT MA WILL CLOSELY MONITOR THE SITUATION. I WISH THOSE OF YOU ON VACATION AN EXCELLENT REMAINDER OF THE VACATION.

 

                                                                  Tom Gosnell"

                                                               

 

April 16, 2015 Update on Masssachusetts Budget

 

"Together we made a difference--Our legislators heard our voices!"

 

  The Massachusetts House of Representatives have reinstated Full Time Kindergarten and increased the Circuit Breaker Reimbursment in their version of the budget.  It will soon be heading to the Massachusetts Senate. Charter School reimbursment was not reinstated.  The reimbursement for the charter schools in our district is still underfunded. This is a huge loss of revenue($1,800,000.00-refer to Line item 7061-9010). We need to continue contacting our Representatives and Senators to make sure the funding for Full Day Kindergarten and Circuit Breaker Reimbursement stays in place when the budget is in the Senate.  We need to ask for the Charter School reimbursement to be reinstated. Our voices were heard before and they need to be heard again.  Please take a moment to contact your Senators and Representatives. 

 

  If you use this link and search by location using your zip code, you can find the contact information for your legislators. 

 

 

from-March 16, 2015-Massachusetts Budget

 

Good afternoon everyone:

 

    I just got back from a budget meeting with the district, and to say that the budget looks dismal would be an understatement.  As usual expenses are up and revenue is down.  Three items in particular, the Kindergarten Grant, the funding for Charter Reimbursement and the "Circuit Breaker" percent reimbursement, are being discussed at the state level.

 

   The state has proposed to completely cut the Kindergarten Grant ($872, 000.00).  This grant pays for the salaries of the Para-educators who work in Kindergarten classrooms.  While the district agrees that it would not be practical to take all the Para-educators out of Kindergarten classes, I cannot imagine that this loss would not affect members of our unit. (refer to Line item 7030-1002)

 

  The state has also proposed to underfund the reimbursement on the amount of money the district is forced to pay to the charter schools in our district ($1,800,000.00). This is a huge loss of revenue. (refer to Line item 7061-9010)

 

  The "Circuit Breaker" funds are reimbursement from the state for the high expenses of services that some of our students need.  The state has proposed to reduce the funding from 75 % to 66% ($400,000.00). (refer to Line item 7061-0012)

 

  We need to contact our state legislators and let them know that Springfield cannot afford these cuts.  The state needs to fund the future and these children are the future.

 

  If you use this link and search by location using your zip code you can find the contact information for your legislator. 

 

 

 For instance, you may wish to send an email to your legislator's about the Kindergarten Grant using the following wording:

 

 

"I am writing to urge you to support state funding for Full-Day Kindergarten in the FY16 Budget of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Line Item 7030-1002).

 

State funding for Full-Day Kindergarten (FDK) is essential to FDK available to Springfield's families. Together with local school district resources, state funds help the Springfield's Public Schools provide an outstanding FDK program that helps our youngest students get the best start on their education and their lives.

 

Research shows that Full Day Kindergarten provides long term benefits to all students - increased student achievement, improved school attendance, reduced retention and remediation, and more. 

 

State funding supports Quality Full Day Kindergarten in communities across the Commonwealth.  Our State has made great progress in the provision of FDK.  We don't want to lose ground in our efforts to achieve FDK for ALL children in Massachusetts!

 

I urge you to support level funding for Full Day Kindergarten ($23.9 million) in the FY16 Budget.

 

Thank you for your support. We invite you to come visit our FDK program at your earliest opportunity!

 

Sincerely, "

 

No Child Left Behind--Update--April 19, 2015

 

"Your voice was heard--You made a difference"

 

Something stunning happened this week in Congress. The Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee voted 22-0 to overhaul No Child Left Behind. That's right, policymakers from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) listened to the people they're sworn to represent and found common ground on public education.

 

Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) led the charge. They're the ultimate Odd Couple -- he served as President George H. W. Bush's secretary of education; she was known as the "mom in tennis shoes" who entered politics to save her local preschool.

 

Together, they listened to business leaders, community partners, civil rights activists, parents and educators -- including nearly 20,000 AFT members. Overwhelmingly, the message was: Instead of obsessing over test scores, let's give our students what they need to climb the ladder of opportunity and succeed. Schools should be places of learning and joy, not testing and agita. And, let's give our teachers the latitude, supports and resources necessary to do their jobs well.

 

The outcome is promising: While not perfect -- no compromise is -- their bill restores the original intent of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as NCLB was first known, to address poverty and educational inequality with targeted funding for poor children. It moves away from the counterproductive focus on sanctions and high-stakes tests, and ends federalized teacher evaluations and school closings.

 

In unity,
Randi Weingarten
AFT President

 

from-APRIL 15 2015

 

This is a big deal: Last week, Sens. Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Murray (D-Wash.) announced that they’ve broken the logjam in Washington, unveiling a bipartisan deal to replace No Child Left Behind with a new and improved version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. 

This deal maintains a strong focus on providing much-needed resources for poor children while doing away with the worst parts of NCLB, waivers and Race To the Top—the overuse and high stakes of tests, the punitive sanctions for schools, and federal mandates for teacher evaluation.

There are still improvements to make, though. This week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee is voting on amendments to this bill, and we need your help in ensuring a few key improvements are made. 


Your senator is on the Senate HELP Committee. Will you write to him or her today?

There are more than 80 proposed amendments, but these five will make a big difference for our schools:

  • The Support Making Assessments Reliable and Timely Act (SMART Act), which supports state audits of testing to identify and reduce duplicative, unnecessary and invalid assessments.

  • Sen. Baldwin’s amendment on resource equity, which would require states to measure the provision of key resources needed to improve student achievement, and to implement plans to address any identified resource gaps.

  • Sens. Bennett, Casey and Whitehouse’s amendment on testing transparency, which would provide parents with clear information about testing, including the purpose of the test; identification of the federal, state or local law, regulation, or policy that established the requirement for the assessment; and the amount of time students will spend taking the test.

  • Sen. Isakson’s amendment, which would ensure that parents are allowed to opt their child out of statewide academic assessments if allowed under state law.

  • Sen. Sanders’ amendment, which would authorize specific funding levels for Titles I, II and III, a crucial amendment given the growing number of public school students living in poverty.

  • Sen. Warren’s amendment, which would require states to report if and how their teacher and leader evaluation systems use valid and reliable measures.

These amendments will have a real-world impact for students and educators, and help get us back to the original intent of ESEA.

Please contact your senator today and urge him or her to support these amendments. 


In unity,
Randi Weingarten
AFT President

Ask the Mayor to Take Action on Your Rising Health Care Costs

The Group Insurance Commission will be implementing an increase in premiums, deductibles and co-pays effective July 1, 2015. This  increase will have the capacity to cause a significant financial impact on the City of Springfield. In an effort to take a proactive approach the Public Employee Committee has requested that the City of Springfield go out to bid for their employee health insurance plans.  The PEC have asked that 1.) The City request data  2.) The City prepare the bid and 3.) The City prepare a formal document creating a Public Employee Committee. Please contact Mayor Sarno and request that the city go out to bid for employee health insurance.  You can reach the Mayor's office at  413-787-6100 or write to or visit  Mayor Dominic Sarno at Springfield City Hall, 36 Court Street, Springfield, MA 01103.

No Child Left Behind

Repeal Windfall Elimination Provisions

Teach Safe Relationships Act

 

If we’re serious about stopping sexual assault and intimate-partner violence, we can’t wait until our kids reach college to talk about it. But too often, we do wait, or we expect our children to navigate safe relationships on their own.
 
Thanks to the leadership of Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), we have a chance to change that. They’ve introduced the Teach Safe Relationships Act, an amendment to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that would add age-appropriate lessons about healthy relationships to the health education courses many high school students already take.
 
We’re partnering with UltraViolet—a leading advocacy group—to support this bill. Will you ask your senators to co-sponsor the Teach Safe Relationships Act?
 
I have two teenagers, and I know how difficult talking about sex and healthy relationships can be. But I also know that if we don’t teach students what safe, respectful behavior looks like, they’re more likely to be victims—or perpetrators. I don’t want that for my children, or anybody’s child.
 
And we know that dangerous behavior doesn’t just happen in college. Many people are victims of sexual assault, dating violence or stalking before they’re 18—even as early as middle school. By adding age-appropriate lessons on respectful relationships to existing health courses, we can help our students learn healthy behavior before it’s too late.
 
Although schools are not required to offer comprehensive health education, this bill would require those that do to include “safe relationship behavior” education. It would also create a grant program to support educators and administrators in implementing this curriculum.
 
Join the AFT and UltraViolet in asking your senators to co-sponsor the Teach Safe Relationships Act.
 
Congress has a chance to help reduce violence and sexual assault by implementing these commonsense lessons into classes our kids are already taking. Together, we have the opportunity to improve the health and safety of a whole generation of young people through this bill.  Join me, and ask your senators to support this bill.
 
In unity,
Mary Cathryn Ricker
AFT Executive Vice President

Springfield Federation of Paraprofessionals

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