Coalition fights for school funding
A group of educators, students and parents met at the State House Tuesday to launch their new coalition “Fund Our Future,” which focuses on bringing equitable learning to all Massachusetts students from kindergarten to college.
The group, comprised of nearly a dozen organizations, wants the state to look at its 25-year-old funding formula and at the inequities of public colleges, which they say is harming schools in lower and working classes. They are calling for a $1.5 billion reinvestment in public education.
“We want fully equitable funding for our K-12 schools and higher education by the end of 2019,” said Director of the Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance Charlotte Kelley. “Time’s up, the clock has run out and we are leaving our young people’s education in the balance.”
The coalition said they see inequity in gross overcrowding in classrooms, a lack of arts and extracurricular activities, diminishing libraries and overworked teachers.
“I ask the Legislature, ‘Are some Massachusetts children more deserving than others?’ ” said New Bedford parent Ricardo Rosa.
“This is a crisis for everyone because it impacts every child in Massachusetts and it is important to provide awareness and urgency to the neglect happening in our state because we are failing to fund schools,” added teacher Zena Link. “When we do that, we fail our children.”
Much of this problem, the groups say, stems from the outdated funding formula.
“We live in a different world than we did 25 years ago and the challenges with our schools have only grown,” said Malden Superintendent John Oteri, citing increased school safety; increased resources for students’ social/emotional health; rising costs of education for students with disabilities, English language learners and health care for staff as differences.
And it isn’t just in the districts; several students also advocated for affordable public colleges, stating the system is targeting lower-class students with bigger debt and fewer resources.
“When public institutions become unaffordable and inaccessible for our community, they are no longer public,” said UMass Amherst graduate student Juan Pablo Blano. “All students regardless of their background, deserve well-funded public colleges and a debt-free future.”