The following statement was issued by MTA President Merrie Najimy today following the signing of the Student Opportunity Act by Governor Charlie Baker:
Winning the Student Opportunity Act is a huge victory for students, for educators, for communities and for racial and economic justice. When the new law is fully phased in, it will increase annual state funding for public education by $1.5 billion over inflation. Much of that money will go to low-income districts — disproportionately communities of color — that have been left behind by our Commonwealth’s outdated and inequitable funding system.
Unionized educators, parents, students and community groups have been fighting for the bill for more than a year, with support from leading legislators, local elected officials and other allies of the Fund Our Future campaign. The entire Legislature ultimately embraced the campaign’s goals by adopting all of the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission — and then some — and passing the Student Opportunity Act unanimously last week. The governor’s signing of the bill today without seeking to amend it enacts into law a long-overdue funding formula that will make school funding more equitable across the state.
The new funding is just the beginning of providing all students with the public schools they deserve — not the end. The MTA will continue to work with educators and parents to ensure they have a role in determining how the money will be spent.
We will also fight to make sure that state education officials do not try to micromanage how districts allocate their funds or burden them with new mandates that further erode educators’ expertise and autonomy.
Education is a right — and public education is a common good. Providing students with excellent public schools through grade 12 is just the start. In order for a democratic society to truly function, its people also need access to affordable, high-quality public higher education. Moving forward, we will renew our focus on passing the Cherish Act to extend education justice to public higher education funding. When that is achieved, Massachusetts really will deserve to be called “the education state.”