Underfunding Is Hurting Our Students

Our vision for the schools our communities deserve begins with recognizing that, as the bipartisan Foundation Budget Review Commission found, our public schools are underfunded by more than $1 billion a year. Our governor continues to put forward budgets that fail to address the real costs of providing a high-quality public education for every student in Massachusetts.

The facts are unsettling.

  • Our public schools are underfunded by more than $1 billion a year.
  • State appropriations for public higher education have dropped by 24 percent since 2001.

We Must Fully Fund Our Schools

State House

The state Legislature’s formal session ended this summer without any decision to increase school funding to address the major shortcomings identified by the Foundation Budget Review Commission.

In its inaction, the Legislature failed to perform its most essential duty: to provide sufficient funds, as demanded by our Constitution, to “cherish” our public schools. Our students, especially those who are most vulnerable, will go another year without getting what they need and deserve.

The MTA’s top priority this year is to organize member power to win increased funding for public education, from preschool through higher education.

Public Higher Education Funding in Massachusetts

So many Massachusetts families rely on our public colleges and universities, yet we continue to drastically underfund them.

The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center has produced 16 charts showing major trends in enrollment and state support for our community colleges, four-year state universities and UMass. The bottom line: Despite the growing importance of public higher education to the long-term health of our state, Massachusetts has been cutting its support since 2001. Tuition and fees have grown substantially as a result.

Read more.


Fight for adequate funding continues

MTA Today, Spring Edition

How unequal school funding punishes poor kids

The Nation, May 11, 2018

MTA applauds Senate vote on school funding

Mass Teachers Association, May 10, 2018

More than half of Americans support pay raises for teachers, poll finds

PBS, April 23, 2018

Paid summer breaks and other common myths about teachers

CNN, April 15, 2018

The larger concerns behind the teachers' strikes

The Atlantic, April 3, 2018

In school funding court battles, there's been a winning shift

Governing Magazine, December 6, 2017

A Punishing Decade for School Funding

Center on Budget and Policies Priorities, November 29, 2017

Foundation Budget Review Commission

This is what computers looked like in 1993, when the state's formula for distributing aid to local school districts was established as part of the Education Reform Act of 1993.

Since that time, the foundation budget — the centerpiece of the funding formula — has not been updated in light of state curriculum frameworks, MCAS and other key elements of the law.

In 2014,  the Legislature convened the Foundation Budget Review Commission, a panel of legislators, state administrators, educators and business leaders charged with assessing the appropriate level of funding for K-12 public education. MTA President Barbara Madeloni was a member of the commission.

In 2014-2015, the commission collected testimony from educators, school administrators and others at a series of hearings held across the state. Following the hearings, members of the commission met to determine next steps. Ultimately, the commission determined that the formula for computing state aid for education to cities and towns — known as Chapter 70 funds — woefully shortchanges school districts.

What is the foundation budget?

Each school district has a “foundation budget,” which is the amount of money deemed necessary to provide an adequate education to every student. The Foundation Budget Review Commission, or FBRC, evaluated the way in which foundation budgets are determined.

Reviving the commission was a top legislative priority of the MTA.

Now that we know the funding formula for K-12 education is outdated, what happens next?

Better Funding, Better Schools

The MTA created Better Funding, Better Schools: a Roadmap to Overriding Proposition 2 1/2, to help local associations participating in local override efforts, and give nuts-and-bolts advice about leading or participating in a successful override campaign.

The guide is available to association members and the general public. The appendix to Better Funding, which contains examples of fliers and other campaign materials, is not available online. To receive a copy of the appendix only, contact MTA Communications, 617-878-8265.

Budget Resources

Massachusetts State Budget
Process and documents on the official website of the state Legislature.

Governor's Budget Recommendation
Detailed information about the governor's budget recommendation.

Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center
The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center provides independent research and analysis of state budget and tax policies, as well as economic issues, that affect low- and moderate-income people in Massachusetts.