Problems within the Massachusetts education system are continuously harming children’s ability to learn. There are mass disparities in the educational outcomes of different socioeconomic groups throughout the state, as students in low-income areas don’t have access to the high-quality education other districts are receiving. The Massachusetts Standardized Testing System better known as the ‘MCAS’ is a form of inadequate testing that doesn’t account for the disparities and educational inequities communities face. Communities that are facing these inequities are receiving significantly less funding than those that hold higher socioeconomic status and higher MCAS score averages. The Legislature has the power to make investments in public pre-K-12 and higher education through the Cherish Act and has the authority to end the high-stakes testing regime through the Thrive Act.
Since 1993, MA hasn't been spending enough money on public K-12 education, and finally after decades of delay, the legislature passed a $1.5B school funding bill. However, we've already seen the initial funding timeline delayed
Our public higher education system is out of reach for many. Lack of appropriate funding to the UMass system has resulted in tuition and fee hikes. Spending per pupil is down 31% in the last two decades. We must pass the Cherish Act to get funding levels back up.
Standardized testing is a favorite tool of privatizers who want to use poor test scores against school districts rather than funding them appropriately. We won a victory in 2020 with the cancellation of all MCAS requirements due to Covid, but now we need to make that permanent.
Allocates $600M new funding for our public higher education system
Establishes a fair minimum funding level per student to ensure funding keeps pace with enrollments
Freezes tuition and fees for five years to ensure higher ed is in reach of all students who want to attend
Establishes a Commission to develop anti-racist and social justice-focused curriculum for Massachusetts schools
The Commission would also advise the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on how to increase, support, and retain educators and counselors of color
Establishes a moratorium on standardized testing being a requirement for high school graduation
Creates a grant program for school districts to establish task forces to develop alternative assessment models
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Public school funding comes primarily from two places: the state, and the city/town school district. The state consistently underfunds all public schools, but wealthier cities and towns use their own funds to make up the difference between the “foundation budget” and the actual cost of giving students a quality education. This practice perpetuates inequalities, as wealthier districts can afford to put extra money into their schools, while schools in poorer districts are severely underfunded. The state’s wealthiest school districts spend over 40% more per student than the state’s poorest school districts.
Further reading: MassBudget: Building an Education System that Works for Everyone
It is a myth that public schools cannot use funding efficiently. In fact, many public schools have been increasing class sizes in an effort to save money, and many public school teachers have to buy their own supplies.
The Foundation Budget Review Commission (“FBRC”) has already researched what a reasonable budget would be for a public school. The FBRC was a bipartisan group; their findings should not have been controversial. The problem is not a lack of research; the problem is a lack of political will on Beacon Hill to fund education.
Due to Massachusetts’s long history of deep-rooted racial injustice and inequality, the state’s public PreK-12 schools have been facing socioeconomic and racial segregation for a very long time. Most commonly through socioeconomic disparities, schools in districts that have higher property value and taxes receive the highest levels of education funding, resources, opportunities, and test scores. While those in lower-income communities receive fewer resources to provide quality education and continue widening the achievement gap within the state.
The MCAS graduation requirement is very harmful to students in numerous ways. The test is not equitable for all students as those who are in underfunded schools and lower-income districts don’t have the same resources and preparation opportunities as those in higher-income communities and schools. The Massachusetts Teachers Association has long supported the elimination of the requirement as they believe that forcing students to pass the test reduces educational learning and limits what subjects teachers can teach while reducing creativity and producing stress within the classroom.