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Education Funding Reform bill released for final votes with full equity provisions

Nov 20, 2019

“I’m thrilled to see the Student Opportunity Act take another big step toward the finish line today. The conference committee report includes all of the core provisions that students, parents, educators, and organizers have been championing for years. It represents a nation-leading model for education funding equity, by including all five Foundation Budget Review Commission recommendations—especially with the full low-income rate. These pieces were never in question during the conference negotiation, but families across the state have been counting on us to start implementing these changes in next year’s budget.

"Congratulations to Senator Lewis, Representative Peisch, and the rest of the conferees for this speedy work, ensuring the Legislature has time to pass the final bill before the break.”

- Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz
Second Suffolk District

On Tuesday, the Student Opportunity Act was released by a conference committee between the Massachusetts Senate and House. The bill will correct the Commonwealth’s 25 year old education funding formula by implementing the recommendations of the 2015 bipartisan Foundation Budget Review Commission, co-chaired by Sen. Chang-Díaz. The commission found that the state was underfunding K-12 education by over $1 billion per year, disproportionately on the backs of low-income students.

The Student Opportunity Act, first released by the Education Committee in September, includes all five of the commission’s recommendations, including the full low-income rate. It also incorporates additional fixes from the Education PROMISE Act, filed by Sen. Chang-Díaz and Reps. Aaron Vega & Mary Keefe. The PROMISE Act was backed by a broad coalition of students, teachers, parents, superintendents, school committees, civil rights groups, business leaders, legislators, and experts from across the state.

At a press conference in January, the coalition called for 2019 passage of all 5 FBRC recommendations, including and especially the low-income rate. If signed into law in 2019, the Student Opportunity Act will meet all of the coalition’s criteria.

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"It’s going to be a game changer," Chang-Díaz said. "I know it's going to take time for the MCAD to fill the staffing shortages that they've been experiencing in recent years, but this is a huge step forward."

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