Hands on Experience
- Jen Fries has headed up major public-private partnerships to support our public schools, serving for more than a decade as head of the largest non-profit partner with the Cambridge Public Schools. Jen partnered with local companies and secured a quarter-million dollars in private funding each year to support tutoring and mentoring programs in that role.
- Jen worked with the Mass. Teachers Association on the 2016 “No on 2” campaign, canvassing neighbors and writing a letter to the editor in support of keeping the cap on charter schools. This reflects Jen’s concern that charter school financing is detrimental to the financing of public school districts, which continue to educate the vast majority of students.
- Jen currently runs a career-mentoring non-profit which introduces students to careers in architecture, construction, and engineering, serving students from Boston Public Schools and other public, charter, parochial, and private schools in the greater Boston area.
- Jen has raised more than $120,000 with a group of parents to support her child’s bilingual public school, the Amigos School/Escuela Amigos.
- While at Mass. Legal Assistance Corporation, Jen helped create the first Loan Repayment Assistance Program for legal aid attorneys and paralegals to address crushing college and law school debt.
- Jen is dedicated to making public college in Massachusetts free for all residents.
- We must pass the CHERISH ACT to return funding levels for the UMASS system to 2001 levels, which would considerably lower the cost for current students and make it easier to create a debt-free college plan.
- We must recognize the high levels of student debt currently plaguing many students and ruining livelihoods.
- The state currently has a Student Loan Repayment Program, but it is not enough, and Jen promises to make sure that anyone suffering from the burden of student debt is given access to the benefits of this fund—including those working in the human services sector.
- Jen will fight for the rights of adjunct professors to unionize and collectively bargain.
Public K-12 Education
- Jen will push the Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education to provide adequate resources to school districts for COVID testing, updates to ventilation and HVAC, provision of PPE, capital improvements to ensure working hot water and windows, purchase or rental of tents or modular classrooms, and additional staffing as needed to allow schools to open safely. These resources should also prioritize the communities hardest-hit by COVID in our state.
- Jen is fiercely committed to making sure that the Student Opportunity Act—a bill passed in 2019 that set out to provide 1.5 billion dollars in aid to public schools—is fully funded. Although the law passed, the current plan in place fails to fund it in 2020-2021, harming school districts across the state that face rising costs for health insurance, special education, and the costs to support low-income and high-needs students.
- Jen is also dedicated to fighting for public Universal Pre-K and Kindergarten for every family in Massachusetts, regardless of zip code.
- Jen supports a three year moratorium on MCAS testing, and rethinking how the state goes about the practice of standardized testing, especially in preventing a new test from being used to judge the performance of a teacher.
- She also recognizes that the school-to-prison pipeline continues to permeate our public schools, and that there is an urgent need to deal with the over policing of our schools—especially for districts serving students of color.
- Jen will support sexual education that centers consent, bodily autonomy, and the rights of students across the gender and sexuality spectrum.
- Jen will work to require adequate recess time for elementary school students.
- There is quite a long way to go in ensuring a just and safe public school system, including paying our public school teachers fair wages, funding public school mental health counseling, making sure that gun sense laws are passed—something Jen has marched and fought for, and ensuring that our housing policies allow for teachers and students to all live in safe and accessible housing.
- Jen fought on the front lines to Keep the Cap in 2016. The fight will continue on in efforts to ensure Charter School reimbursements—hundreds of millions of dollars—are given back to local public school districts.
- Jen also understands that we as a state must make sure that Charter schools are given proper oversight in order to prevent:
- The infusion of “dark money” from billionaires and hedge funds into our political process, as we saw in 2016. After paying the largest fine ever in state history for campaign finance violations, it is clear that charter school proponents are not playing by the rules or dedicated to factual discourse.
- For-profit charters from being installed and run in Massachusetts.
- English language learners and disabled students from being kept from receiving a charter school’s benefits.
- Charter school teachers from being exploited and suffering high turnover.
- Students from being expelled or “counseled out” from their charter school.
- Jen stands in solidarity with the many teacher’s unions across the state, and recognizes that throughout modern history, public school teacher unions have been taken advantage of on a consistent basis.
- Jen acknowledges that this support is an even greater necessity in a global pandemic, which is why Jen will fight to keep the Collective Bargaining Rights of teachers unions and to make striking a legal maneuver for teachers unions.