Fund Our Future Campaign Statement on Report Showing $1 Billion Difference Between Education Funding Bills

Share This

The Fund Our Future campaign today issued the following statement regarding a new report by the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, titled “Towards Equity:School Funding Reform in Massachusetts.” 

The report shows that the Promise Act, the education funding legislation supported by the campaign, would give local school districts “$1.41 billion more than the status quo and $946.3 million more than Governor Baker’s plan,” with the biggest difference coming from the additional resources the Promise Act directs to low-income students in the highest poverty schools. A map showing the additional funding each school district in Massachusetts would receive under the Promise Act can be found here.

“This report clearly shows why students, parents, educators and community leaders around the state support the Promise Act – it’s the only proposal that would deliver the resources needed to achieve equal access to great public education in every community. Let’s be clear – students in poverty need significantly more resources than they receive under the current formula. The status quo is failing low-income students, and incremental progress is not enough. Students need fully and equitably funded schools, no matter where they live.

“This report shows how the Governor’s bill would shortchange students of color, low-income students in urban and rural districts, immigrant students, and students with disabilities. It shows the critical importance of fully investing in the lowest-income districts whose students have the greatest need, as the Promise Act does.

“As members of the Education Committee work on a school funding bill, they have an opportunity to truly addresses the inequity in our education funding system by giving low-income students the support they need to thrive. In the communities with the highest concentrations of poverty, the new Foundation Budget formula must provide extra resources for low-income students at the maximum rate recommended by the Foundation Budget Review Commission: 100 percent of the base spending amount for students generally. We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to ensure that every child has access to a great education. Students can’t afford half measures.”

The Promise Act would fully implement the recommendations of the bipartisan Foundation Budget Review Commission and result in $1.4 billion in additional state funding for preK-12 schools in Massachusetts. It would give the most economically disadvantaged communities the bulk of new resources, while also guaranteeing meaningful minimum aid increases for all districts and providing relief to certain districts that lose significant funding to charter schools, by guaranteeing that state aid would never fall below the target set by the Foundation Budget for each community.

Background

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, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, Boston Democratic Socialists of America (BDSA), Boston Education Equity Coalition, Boston Education Justice Alliance, Boston Teachers Union, CEPA at UMass Amherst, Chinese Progressive Association, 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, Mass Nurses Association, 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, Young Dems of MA, and Youth on Board. The campaign is calling on the Legislature to pass two bills that meet the recommendations of the state’s bipartisan Foundation Budget Review Commission and the Higher Education Finance Commission by increasing state funding for preK-12 public schools by $1.4 billion a year and increasing state funding for public colleges and universities by more than $500 million a year. Advocates are calling for this major reinvestment in public education to happen in time for local communities to include the funding in the next academic year’s budget and in time for public college students to avoid tuition and fee hikes this fall.

The Promise Act, filed by Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz and Representatives Aaron Vega and Mary Keefe, would implement the recommendations of the bipartisan Foundation Budget Review Commission, which foundin 2015 that the state is underfunding public education by at least $1 billion a year. The commission found that the state’s funding formula fails to account for the cost of four specific items: educating students who have disabilities, those who are English learners, the needs of students from low-income families, and the rising cost of health insurance for staff. Since 2002, annual K-12 funding from the state has been cut by $405 million in inflation-adjusted dollars. Nationally, Massachusetts ranks33rd in the share of our states’ economic resources dedicated to public education. As a result, many students aren’t getting a well-rounded education including small classes, music and art, science, technology, engineering, and math education, and public school staff including counselors, paraprofessionals, special education teachers and librarians.

The Cherish Act, filed by Senator Jo Comerford and Representatives Paul Mark and Sean Garballey, would implement the core recommendation of the state’s Higher Education Finance Commission, which foundin 2014 that the state is underfunding our public colleges and universities by more than $500 million a year in inflation-adjusted dollars. Since 2001, state funding of public colleges and universities has declined dramatically, from $12,000 per student each year to only $8,000 per student. As a result, Massachusetts has the fastest-growingpublic college costs and the second-fastest growth in student debt in the nation. Tuition and fees at Massachusetts’ public colleges and universities are among the highest in the country. Costs are being shifted onto students and families, who are forced to take on enormous debt. Today, the average UMass student is graduating with over $30,000 in student debt, and the average graduate of our state universities leaves school with over $25,000 in student debt. At the same time, full-time tenured faculty members are being replaced by part-time instructors who are paid much less, have no job security, and often do not receive health insurance coverage.