Proposed Education Funding Bill A Step Toward Fully and Equitably Funding Public Schools

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A movement of tens of thousands of students, parents, unionized educators, and community partners have been demanding action to address the public education funding crisis for years. Today, the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Education listened to our members and our movement and has taken a step forward for education justice with the release of their education funding bill.

Students, parents, and educators need to stay vigilant and make sure that an education funding bill makes it across the finish line and that our movement can be proud of the final bill. Now more than ever, we need to mobilize people to call their lawmakers next Wednesday for our Fund Our Future Phonebanking Day of Action.

“We deeply understand this crisis,” said Marianela Rivera, a parent in Lawrence. “Whether it’s the overworked and inadequate number of guidance counselors and support staff in schools or a lack of paper and basic supplies in our classrooms, our young people have suffered because of the inaction on Beacon Hill. This legislation is desperately needed and long overdue.”

We are glad to see lawmakers listened to our grassroots movement and adopted a full 100% increase for low-income students in the highest need. This will drive hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to underserved students in districts that have desperately needed these resources for decades.

We will continue to fight for a durable, long-term fix for the charter school mitigation problem. Students can’t afford to have millions of dollars drained from their public schools.

“As students, we have been fighting to achieve full school funding for years," said Anna Zhao, a junior at Josiah Quincy Upper High School in Boston, and a leader of Youth on Board and the Boston Student Advisory Council. “In 2016, we walked out of school to protest devastating budget cuts, continued to tell our stories, and organized our peers. Today, we are hopeful that we can win again for all students in the Commonwealth. When students stand together with teachers, parents, and caring citizens who understand the value of public education, we can win.”

“Students, parents, and educators will hold our local elected officials accountable and demand a voice to ensure any new money brought into districts is spent the right way,” said Charlotte Kelly, executive director of MEJA. “That means more staff who have direct impact on the classroom, not more administrators. That means more guidance counselors, not more cops in schools. That means resources and supplies for students’ everyday needs, not spending that doesn’t impact learning conditions of students or the teaching conditions of educators.”

We need to make sure that the final legislation benefits every community and that no poison pills are attached as it moves through the process. Students and our communities deserve this new funding that they have been waiting for decades to see. And at the end of the day, the passage of this piece of legislation will only bring schools up to adequate funding levels. This fight must continue until we have real justice and equity for students of color, working-class communities, and students left behind by decades of systemic underfunding.