MTA President Merrie Najimy issued the following statement today after the House released its proposed budget for fiscal 2021-22:
Given the extraordinary needs facing our communities still coping with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Massachusetts Teachers Association continues to advocate for a state budget that provides sufficient resources for every student attending the Commonwealth’s public schools and better supports students seeking access to high-quality public colleges and universities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has both exposed and deepened the racial and class inequities in our public education system — from preK to higher education. The next state budget must address these inequities, which means meeting the goals of the Student Opportunity Act and the Cherish Act.
The House budget released today does a better job than Governor Charlie Baker’s fiscal 2021-2022 spending proposal in terms of hitting the targets set forth by the Student Opportunity Act, but still leaves our students in preK-12 schools vulnerable to underfunding because of inadequate accounting of enrollment. It is important that the final budget provide one-sixth of the full investment called for by the Student Opportunity Act, as the House has done.
The House budget does a better job than the governor's spending proposal in terms of hitting the targets set forth by the Student Opportunity Act, but still leaves our students in preK-12 schools vulnerable to underfunding because of inadequate accounting of enrollment.
At the same time, the House budget fails to begin the reinvestment in public higher education that is desperately needed and is called for in the Cherish Act. The essentially level-funded budgeting for public higher education is inadequate for addressing major issues such as student debt and pay equity and benefits for adjunct faculty.
With so many students of color and students from working families dropping out of public colleges and universities during the pandemic, our Commonwealth faces a growing crisis. Investing in public higher education is vital to knock down the financial barriers confronting students trying to enter our colleges and universities — and for ensuring that the staff and programs are in place to support student success.
The federal aid given to Massachusetts — beyond the amount specifically designated for education — plus the state’s generally healthy economic condition make it possible to properly invest in public schools and colleges and to fairly open opportunities to every student, not just those born into privilege.