Page 18 THE MALDEN ADVOCATE–Friday, May 17, 2024 ~ Guest Commentary ~ End test and punish approach to education in Massachusetts By Jessica Gold Boots E very educator knows that the high-stakes nature of the MCAS means a significant amount of learning time is eaten up by test prep, limiting our exploration of diverse subjects COLLECTING SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS Y ou can claim your social security benefits once you reach age 62. However, if you begin collecting at age 62, your benefits will be permanently reduced by 25% to 30%, depending on your birth year. Furthermore, if you begin collecting at age 62 and you are still working, you will have your benefits further reduced once your income exceeds a certain level. Once you reach your full retirement age, you can earn as much as you want without suffering a reduction of benefits. For those born in 1960 or later, the full retirement age is 67. If, for example, you were born in 1958, your full retirement age would be 66 and 8 months. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a table that you can go by to determine what your full retirement age is and how much your benefits will be reduced by claiming early and how much they will be increased by waiting to age 70 to collect. If you wait beyond age 70 to collect, you will not receive any higher benefit. If you delay collecting your social security benefits until after your full retirement age, your benefits will increase 8% each year until age 70. One benefit of this strategy is if you were to die at age 71, your surviving spouse who was married to you for at least 10 years would receive 100% of your monthly benefit. If that surviving spouse did not have a higher monthly benefit under his or her own work history and did not have a sufficient state pension to live on, as well as significant liquid assets, that could be very important for the surviving spouse in order to continue with his or her standard of living. If a spouse collects benefits under his or her spouse’s work history, those benefits will be permanently reduced if that spouse begins collecting prior to his or her full retirement age. If you were to die after reaching your full retirement age, your surviving spouse would then be able to collect 100% of your monthly benefit, including the increased benefit you might be receiving as a result of waiting until age 70 to collect benefits. You can claim a surviving spouse social security benefit under your deceased spouse’s work history at age 60 and then transition to your own work history at your full retirement age assuming this would result in a higher monthly benefit. Furthermore, you could even wait until age 70 to collect under your work history resulting in even a higher monthly benefit. I would suggest establishing an account on the www.ssa.gov website to review your work history and to make sure all of your earnings have been posted properly. Go onto the retirement calculator tab to project your estimated benefits based upon retiring at full retirement age or at age 70. You would input your expecting earnings as well. If a divorced spouse remarries, he or she would lose the opportunity to collect benefits based upon the previous spouse’s work history. That is a real important consideration for divorced couples. . Joseph D. Cataldo is an estate planning/elder law attorney, Certified Public Accountant, Certified Financial Planner, AICPA Personal Financial Specialist and holds a master’s degree in taxation. and impeding our ability to provide a well-rounded education. A colleague added up testing days for all required assessments and realized that almost a quarter of our days are spent testing students. Instead of fostering a love for learning, educators like me find themselves trapped in a cycle of never-ending test preparation, sacrificing opportunities to delve into critical thinking, creativity and genuine understanding of the material. Malden educators and parents know that education should be about opening doors to opportunity, not slamming them shut. And that’s exactly why we’re raising concerns about the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) graduation requirement. The current system has denied high school diplomas to thousands of students, disproportionately impacting students with disabilities, English language learners, low-income students and students of color. Students without high school diplomas are at a severe disadBHRC | FROM PAGE 17 the industry’s ability to recruit and retain a talented workforce to provide care. “The countdown is on for REAL ID federal enforcement and the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, and its partner AAA Northeast, have successfully been issuing REAL ID credentials and are prepared for interested residents prior to the May 2025 deadline. We want Massachusetts residents to know they can upgrade to the REAL ID driver’s license or identification card during their normal renewal process for the same cost as a renewal.” ---Registrar of Motor Vehicles Colleen Ogilvie reminding residents that beginning May 7, 2025, anyone traveling by plane domestically or entering certain federal building areas will need a Registry-issued REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or ID or a valid passport. “As a fifth-generation dairy farmer, I understand how demanding and stressful farming can be. Our farmers have always been resilient and resourceful in tackling the challenges of their work, but it’s important we provide resources to prioritize their mental health. Our priority is letting our farmers know that there are people who care and are ready to listen, and there is a network of farmers across Massachusetts available to discuss their vantage when pursuing career training, jobs and higher education. The Commonwealth remains one of only 9 states still enforcing the high-stakes testing graduation requirements, despite widespread recognition of its ineffectiveness and inequity. That’s why families and educators are spearheading the charge for change. In public hearings in front of the Malden School Committee, educators raised concerns that the MCAS graduation requirement reduces students to mere test scores, overshadowing their unique talents and potential. Additionally, educators of English learners like myself know that academic English takes 5-7 years to master. The Thrive Act would instead require students to demonstrate they have met the state’s high standards through all of their coursework and exams. It is not a departure from accountability but a shift towards a more comprehensive evaluation of student achievement. By replacing the MCAS graduation requirement with a challenges and work with them to improve their mental well-being.” --- Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner Ashley Randle raising awareness of the Mass Grown Wellness Program that was launched in 2023 to promote mental health and well-being among members of the farming community. “We are committed to ensuring that every city and town has the most advanced tools to protect against cyberattacks.Given the enormous importance of cyber resiliency, we are working around the clock to empower local leaders, strengthen our workforce and upgrade technology to keep our communities safe.” --- Secretary Yvonne Hao of the Executive Office of Economic Development announcing the Cyber Resilient Massachusetts Grant Program, a $1.4 million initiative to help local governments improve their cyber defenses. The program will provide municipalities with grants to fund narrowly focused cybersecurity technology upgrades identified through vulnerability assessments. HOW LONG WAS LAST WEEK’S SESSION? Beacon Hill Roll Call tracks the length of time that the House and Senate were in session each week. Many legislators say that legislative sessions are only one aspect of the Legislature’s job more accurate statewide measure grounded in our high-quality curriculum, we aim to create a common educational environment in which every student can demonstrate mastery and reach their full potential. The detrimental effects of this testing regime extend beyond our students to the very fabric of our education system. The Thrive Act seeks to rectify this by putting students, communities and real learning at the forefront. Students are multidimensional individuals with diverse talents and strengths that a single, high-stakes test cannot accurately measure. It’s heartening to see the Malden City School Committee advocating for a shift towards high-quality education. Now, it’s imperative for those on Beacon Hill to follow suit by passing the Thrive Act and dismantling the barriers imposed by the MCAS graduation requirement. Jessica Gold Boots is a teacher at Malden High School and serves as Vice President of the Malden Education Association. and that a lot of important work is done outside of the House and Senate chambers. They note that their jobs also involve committee work, research, constituent work and other matters that are important to their districts. Critics say that the Legislature does not meet regularly or long enough to debate and vote in public view on the thousands of pieces of legislation that have been filed. They note that the infrequency and brief length of sessions are misguided and lead to irresponsible late-night sessions and a mad rush to act on dozens of bills in the days immediately preceding the end of an annual session. During the week May 6-10, the House met for a total of 28 minutes and the Senate met for a total of 36 minutes. Mon. May 6 House11:01 a.m. to 11:17 a.m. Senate 11:05 a.m. to 11:10 a.m. Tues.May 7 No House session No Senate session Wed. May 8 No House session No Senate session Thurs. May 9 House11:00 a.m. to11:12 a.m. Senate 11:07 a.m. to11:38 a.m. Fri. May 10 No House session No Senate session Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at bob@beaconhillrollcall.com Bob founded Beacon Hill Roll Call in 197

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