Fund Our Future Campaign Statement on School Reopening Guidance
Full Funding of Student Opportunity Act Needed to Re-open Schools Safely
June 25, 2020
BOSTON – The Fund Our Future campaign today issued the following statement regarding the “Initial Fall School Reopening Guidance” released by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education today:
“It’s undeniable that reopening Massachusetts schools safely this fall will cost significantly more than in pre-COVID times. In their reopening guidance, DESE acknowledges that local school districts will require ‘additional funds on top of their projected budgets to manage additional costs associated with health and safety preparations.’ But simultaneously, school districts all across the state are making budget cuts and laying off educators due to uncertainty about the state’s commitment to funding public education. The contrast is stunning.
“Protecting the safety of students and their families, as well as educators and staff, is the top priority of the Fund Our Future campaign in plans to reopen schools. But the Commonwealth must address more than just the physical health of students in the upcoming school year. Many young people will require enhanced educational opportunities, technology, health and guidance services, and more. Students need social and emotional support, reliable access to healthy food and housing, and the time and space to focus on learning.
“We can’t allow students in high-poverty communities to fall behind while students in wealthy school districts move ahead, but that’s exactly what will happen if the state fails to act. The communities being harmed most by the spread of the coronavirus are those the Student Opportunity Act was designed to help the most, because they’ve been deeply underfunded for years, and remain deeply underfunded today. The chronic underfunding of predominantly Black and Brown schools is a clear reflection of the structural racism in Massachusetts’s education funding system, and failing to fix it now would deepen the racial inequity in our schools at a time when our state leaders are professing their commitment to racial justice. Low-income students, immigrant students, and students of color are being affected most by the pandemic, and they need additional support, now more than ever.
“The Massachusetts legislature must fully fund its commitment to the Student Opportunity Act on the promised schedule. Now more than ever, we must fully fund public education in order to fully recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, restore our economy, address longstanding racial disparities, and build a better society.”
The Fund Our Future campaign was formed to end the generation-long underfunding of local public schools and public colleges and universities in Massachusetts and is endorsed by the following members: Act on Mass, AFT Massachusetts, Alliance for Brookline Schools, Asian American Resource Workshop, Boston Democratic Socialists of America (BDSA), Boston Education Equity Coalition, Boston Education Justice Alliance, Boston Teachers Union, CEPA at UMass Amherst, Citizens for Public Schools, College Dems of MA, Hampshire Franklin Labor Council, Interfaith Worker Justice, JALSA, Jewish Labor Committee, La Communidad, La Voz de la Comunidad – Framingham, Local 26 Unite Here, Lowell Education Justice Alliance, Mass COSH, Massachusetts Communities Action Network , Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance, Massachusetts Jobs with Justice, Massachusetts Teachers Association, Massachusetts Voter Table, Merrimack Valley Central Labor Council, MNA, NAACP New England Area Conference, North Shore Labor Council, Pioneer Valley Labor Council, Pioneer Valley Street Heat, Progressive Massachusetts, Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts (PHENOM), PUMA Parent Union of Mass, QUEST (Quality Education for Every Student), Revere Youth in Action, SEIU 888, Showing Up for Racial Justice, Tikkun Olam Congregation Bnai Israel Northampton, Union of Minority Neighborhoods, Women Encouraging Empowerment, and Youth on Board.
After months of aggressive campaigning by the Fund Our Future campaign, the Student Opportunity Act, which commits the state to increasing annual K-12 education funding by $1.5 billion over inflation over a seven-year phase-in, was signed into law on November 26, 2019. The legislation updates and modernizes the state’s foundation budget formula for school spending, provides millions of dollars more for the highest-poverty districts whose students have the greatest needs, expands the state’s special education reimbursement program (circuit breaker) to include out-of-district transportation funding, and increases the annual spending cap for Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) projects. The primary beneficiaries of the law, the most significant update of the state’s education funding system since 1993, will be low-income students, students of color and English learners who have been left behind for years by the old, outdated school funding system. The Fund Our Future campaign continues to hold lawmakers accountable for fully implementing the Student Opportunity Act over the coming years.
Contact: Steve Crawford, 617-877-1816, firstname.lastname@example.org