Officials, Patriots push for education funding hike

By Mary Markos | Mar 22, 2019

The Joint Committee on Education heard a full day of testimony Friday from the governor, mayors, New England Patriots players, public figures and hundreds of students, parents and teachers asking the state for more money to run public schools.

“Massachusetts still has one of the worst achievement gaps in the nation between rich and poor students,” state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz said in her testimony. “Everybody knows that money alone won’t do it, but we also know that you can’t do it without money.”

Chang-Diaz (D-Boston), a past chairman of the education committee, testified on the Education Promise Act, which she filed along with state Reps. Aaron Vega (D-Holyoke) and Mary Keefe (D-Worcester). The bill was one of three major pieces of legislation that the Joint Committee on Education is considering to address the state’s school funding formula, which hasn’t been updated since 1993.

Two other bills to address the issue were filed by the vice chairman of the committee, Rep. Paul Tucker (D-Salem), and Gov. Charlie Baker.

Baker testified in favor of his education bill Friday, an act to promote equity and excellence in education, along with Secretary of Education Jim Peyser and Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Jeffrey Riley. He pitched the bill as a package working in stride with his budget proposal.

“In many communities, we see persistent achievement gaps and missed opportunities for our kids — especially in urban schools with high concentrations of low-income students and English language learners,” Baker said. “It’s time to close these achievement gaps and continue to move all our public schools toward true excellence.”

Baker cited National Assessment of Educational Progress scores, in which black and Hispanic students scored below 220 in fourth-grade reading, while their white peers scored above 240. The national average is 221. Massachusetts overall scores have led the nation for 12 straight years.

Though Baker’s bill would increase the foundation budget by $1.1 billion in current dollars by 2026, his approach was criticized by some who felt the legislation didn’t go quite far enough.
“I just think we have to be more aggressive,” said Rep. Bud Williams (D-Springfield), a member of the education committee. “There is a lot of subgroups that are really underperforming and I think it’s not a quick fix. I do think we’re going to have to make more of an investment and be more aggressive in terms of implementation.”

Mayor Martin J. Walsh also addressed the importance of education reform. He noted that 43 percent of students in Massachusetts who face multiple challenges including poverty, language barriers, and disability at the same time are in the Boston Public School system.

“This formula is complicated, but the issue is not,” Walsh said. “Every young person, in every community, deserves a full opportunity to learn, to dream, and to thrive in our 21st-century world.”

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is available without profit for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond "fair use", you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Latest News

Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, D-Boston, a former Education Committee chair and a leader on education funding reform, said, “This bill stands as our commitment that, in Massachusetts, zip code must not be destiny.”

"Our session today continues nearly a half-century of work for educational equity. And this bill would not exist without the generations of Bay Staters who tirelessly and passionately kept the cause alive. Who saw the work ahead and never gave up, even when political insiders believed the issue was dead."

Fulfilling the promise of public education as the great equalizer is our next big goal. Bay Staters believe in it. It’s a goal our constitution anchors us to. Now, that collective effort in advocating, crafting policy, and working together has given us a chance to deliver on it.

Copyright © 2019 by

Office of State Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz

MA State House, Rm 111

24 Beacon St, Boston, MA 02133

(617) 722-1673 | sonia.chang-diaz@masenate.gov