To extend the line of yesterday’s post: This piece at Commonwealth by Fall River superintendent (and former Ed Secretary) Matthew Malone shows how badly our austerity-progressive legislature has failed a generation of kids. Read the whole thing — it calls out Massachusetts’ ballyhooed leadership in education as so much fine, fine clothing:
In the decade since the Hancock decision [requiring equitable school funding], Beacon Hill’s commitment has continued to falter, year after year, as places such as Fall River and other Gateway Cities continue to experience school budget reductions at the same time as the complicated needs of educating students gets more and more expensive. State education funding has fluctuated wildly and remains below 2001 levels, even as the needs of our students have grown.
The fact is, in the 25 years since the court required a new era in school funding, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has abandoned its constitutional duty to ensure that all students receive a quality education. Our local public school districts are splintered between the haves and the have-nots. For students in far too many communities who attend schools that are woefully underfunded, our state’s proud history and national reputation as a leader in public education is now just an empty story.
Do you see what I’m saying? Everyone knows that education is a great investment. Everyone knows, since it has been proven countless times, in research and in court, that MA school districts have wildly unequal funding — even more unequal when one considers the degree of need.
Joint Education Committee Chairman Jason Lewis, D-Winchester, noted that Baker’s proposal of $1.1 billion includes state and municipal education and that the state’s contribution is actually $500 million. Lewis asked why he settled on that number when the 2015 report called for $1 billion to $2 billion of state funding.
Baker said additional increases in funding would mean the state government would face a higher burden to fund public schools. “If we go there, we really need to think hard about what the accountability measures would be,” he said.
I’m interested first and foremost in accountability for our leaders, to provide the necessary funds. Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, deposed chair of the Education Committee, proposed the PROMISE act, (S.238), which addresses funding shortfalls due to health insurance, special education, and English learners.