Good News, Bad News, Good News on Education Funding

Good News, Bad News, Good News on Education Funding

Merrie Najimy

Merrie Najimy, President


fund our future header image

Greetings,

Hundreds of millions of dollars in education funding are at stake. Please email or call your state representative and senator to co-sponsor our two funding bills, the Promise Act and the Cherish Act. The deadline for adding co-sponsors in the House is this Friday, Feb. 1, so don’t delay!

Governor Charlie Baker also filed an education funding bill and addressed the issue in his budget. We want to give you an update about his proposal versus the Fund Our Future bills.

The Good News: Because of your advocacy, the governor felt the pressure to propose a sizable increase in spending on our public schools. He also added a significant amount of money for public higher education for this coming year. This never would have happened without the stories you have told about the desperate need for public education funding.

The Bad News: The governor’s plan provides far too little funding and includes far too many poison pills.

While Baker has described his bill as increasing the foundation budget for public schools by more than $1 billion, phased in over seven years, only a portion of that total would come from the state. The rest would have to come from our cities and towns. Most importantly, in providing insufficient resources to educate low-income students, Baker’s bill fails to fully implement all of the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission.

Equally disturbing, Baker’s proposal would give the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, through Commissioner Jeff Riley, the right to withhold funds from our neediest districts if they don’t follow his “reform” plans. You know what that means — more charters, more and new kinds of takeover plans, a rollback in collective bargaining rights, and a greater emphasis on testing.

Furthermore, Baker doesn’t provide nearly enough for public higher education, and he makes no commitment to get us back to the funding levels we need.

The Good News: We have made public education funding the number one issue in the state. And we have developed legislation that will truly Fund Our Future.

The Promise Act would bring $1.3 billion in new state funds to preK-12 schools if it were implemented in the next fiscal year, and it would require some communities to contribute more from local revenues.

It fully funds the FBRC’s recommendations, provides more resources to some districts hit hard by charter schools, and increases minimum aid payments at a higher level than the governor’s bill. There would be no strings attached to this new funding — because educators and local officials know best what our students need.

The Cherish Act would restore per-student public higher education state spending to the level reached in 2001, when adjusted for inflation, providing $500 million more per year when fully phased in.

Polling shows that Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly trust educators as the most authoritative voice on public education. You, the members, are building the momentum to win this campaign. More than 15,000 members signed petitions endorsing the Fund Our Future bills in just a few weeks. We are making waves in the State House with our school committee resolutions and community forums. We have put legislators on notice that they have to get this done by May 1 so that schools and colleges can start to see increased funding by the fall.

The fight has just begun. We need every MTA member to become involved in this essential battle for the public schools and colleges our students deserve.

Get your school committee or higher education board of trustees to pass a resolution supporting full funding. We already have 52 school committees on board. Let’s triple that number!

Again, please ask your representative and senator to co-sponsor our two funding bills, the Promise Act and the Cherish Act.

Show up for an upcoming community forum. We have many scheduled across the state. Share your stories and make sure legislators are committed to full funding without poison pills.

In solidarity,
Merrie and Max