Take Action: The Fight for Full Funding of Public Education Continues

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Earlier this month, the Massachusetts House of Representatives and State Senate both approved budgets for the remainder of the current fiscal year, which runs through June 2021. A joint legislative committee will now reconcile minor differences in the two budgets before sending a final budget to Governor Baker for his signature.

While the House and Senate budgets thankfully avoid making severe budget cuts by using billions of dollars in one-time revenue, including federal aid and the state’s rainy day fund, they fail to fully fund the Student Opportunity Act. In effect, that means cutting much-needed funding for improvements in K- 12 education programs in school districts all across the state, with the biggest cuts in the high-poverty districts hit hardest by the pandemic. As 90 school committee members wrote in a letter to state leaders this month, “the broken formula undercounts tens of thousands of low-income students across the Commonwealth, erases the challenges these students live through on a daily basis, and underfunds their education.”

And the House and Senate budgets only level-fund our public colleges and universities that are operating on already-bare-bones budgets. That results in budget cuts on campuses where room and board revenue has disappeared this year.

Because this budget was delayed by months due to uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Baker and legislators are already beginning the process of developing next year’s budget. They will need to raise new revenue from profitable corporations and their wealthy shareholders in order to fund the Student Opportunity Act and invest in our public colleges and universities. They need to hear from you – TODAY – about the importance of full school funding: Click here to send an automated letter today!

“Federal aid and the state’s rainy day fund are getting us through the current school year without the devastating cuts that many worried about earlier this year, but we still lack the funding necessary to operate in-person school safely. We need immediate funding for ventilation upgrades, and for preventative COVID testing that can stop a potential outbreak in its tracks,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. “As legislators begin to develop next year’s budget, they need to provide the resources to address students’ many needs, and start to repair the trauma that students have endured this year. Health and safety of course remains the number-one priority, but young people also require enhanced educational opportunities; better and more reliable Wi-Fi and devices; expanded social and emotional supports such as mental-health, guidance, and school nursing services; reliable access to no- cost healthy food and to stable housing; and so much more.”

“Now more than ever, students burdened by debt and facing a difficult job market need affordable public higher education,” she continued. “But severe budget cuts at our community colleges, state universities, and UMass campuses are leading to layoffs and furloughs when they should be offering more support to students, not less. The COVID-19 pandemic and recession have caused unprecedented trauma and disruption for students and workers in our public schools and colleges. Now more than ever, we must fully fund public education to support students and families through this crisis.”

 

Tell Governor Baker and the legislature to fully fund the Student Opportunity Act and our public colleges and universities in Massachusetts. Take one minute today to send them a letter using our tool.