Hold the line on public education!

"We recognize that we are in extremely trying financial times and we are not asking for major increases in state education aid," Wass said. "We are asking the governor to hold the line on education and not initiate major funding cuts that will hurt our students, our public schools and our public higher education system for years to come.

"Our students get one chance at an education," Wass continued. "The fifth-grade students in our public schools right now won't have another chance to be fifth-graders again when there is more money in the budget. Public education is unique in that you can't eliminate parts of it and then reintroduce them in a couple of years when money becomes available," she added.

Wass' plea on January 14 came as the Legislature debates a bill that would grant the governor expanded budget-cutting authority and one day before Patrick's annual State of the State address. Wass commended Gov. Patrick for sparing Chapter 70 local education aid earlier on and urged him to continue on that track.

She also praised his efforts to secure federal education funding for the states as part of the proposed economic recovery act. Wass also noted that enrollment in Massachusetts' public colleges and UMass is at an all-time high and cuts to these public institutions would do "tremendous harm."

"Every day, students at UMass and our public colleges are learning new skills so that they are ready for the new and demanding positions that are part of today's economy," Wass said. "They are key to our state's future success. If we shortchange them, we will be limiting our ability to pull ourselves out of the current economic crisis."