Patricia Jehlen

Senator Patricia Jehlen was elected to the Massachusetts Senate in 2005. She represents Medford, Somerville, and parts of Winchester and Cambridge. Senator Jehlen serves as Senate Assistant Majority Leader, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy, Chair of the Special Senate Subcommittee on Education, Senate Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Education, and Senate Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development. She also serves on the Joint Committees on the Judiciary, Elder Affairs, and Election Laws. Jehlen, a former history teacher and VISTA volunteer, graduated from Swarthmore College, received a Master’s degree in teaching from Harvard University, and completed Master’s course work in history at UMass Boston. From 1976 to 1991, she served on the Somerville School Committee, and served as chair in 1980 and 1988. She was among the founders of the CHOICE program, a public school alternative elementary program, which has continued and expanded for almost 30 years. She helped found the Council for Fair School Finance, which brought the successful lawsuit which led to Massachusetts' education reform of 1993 and brought hundreds of millions of dollars in new state aid to communities. Jehlen served from 1991 to 2005 in the Massachusetts House of Representatives where she served as Co-Chair of the Women's Caucus, Co-Chair of the Progressive Legislator's Group (PLG), Co-Chair of the Elder Caucus, and Vice-Chair of the Committee on Elder Affairs. Among her successful legislation were bills to increase literacy for blind people, ensure the rights of people living with mental illness, and provide compensation for the wrongfully convicted. She helped lead the fight to increase the minimum wage, to target tax cuts towards working families by increasing the earned income tax credit and child care credit, and to increase the senior circuit breaker. Among her current priorities is full funding of an updated Foundation Budget, and providing adequate funding for all schools regardless of property wealth. She is working to change the accountability system so that schools are not judged primarily on test scores, and to find remedies for low-scoring schools that are based on students' needs. In 2016, she joined thousands of MTA members, school committee leaders, and parents in helping defeat Question 2, which would have greatly expanded the number of charter schools. She continues to fight for universal and affordable health care and jobs with decent wages and benefits, including earned sick time. In the area of elder s