MAHSD is supporting the Education Promise Act. This landmark bill, presented by Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, would overhaul the current system of K-12 school funding in Massachusetts.
About the Education Promise Act
The Promise Act is the K-12 component of a legislative initiative, Fund Our Future, led by the Massachusetts Teachers Association. As described by them:
“The 2015 Foundation Budget Review Commission found that the Commonwealth’s public school funding formula is outdated — and that the foundation budget is too low by more than $1 billion. The Promise Act, filed by Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz (D-Boston) and by Reps. Aaron Vega (D-Holyoke) and Mary Keefe (D-Worcester), would, over a period of time, implement the four core recommendations of the commission to increase the foundation budget, resulting in more than $1 billion in new state funding.
The bulk of those funds would go to districts with the greatest need and fewest resources. The formula would be changed to:
Modernize the formula to provide adequate support for English learners and low income students.
Realistically account for districts’ health care costs by using actual data to set insurance costs and inflation rates in the foundation budget.
More accurately account for special education costs to better reflect actual SPED enrollment and the total costs that districts bear for out-of-district students.
Increase state aid to certain districts to mitigate losses to charter schools.
Guarantee minimum annual state aid increases to all districts of $50 per pupil.”
Bill Numbers- S.238/H.568
Results of the 3/22/19 Hearing-
Went well overall, there is still debate as to how much funding should be given and whether it will actually help these low-income districts and students, not whether more funding should be given at all
There will not be much movement until mid-April, which is when the House has their budget debate and mid/late-May, which is when the Senate has their budget debate
These debates will determine the standing of the bill
There are many education finance bills on the floor of the State House right now, but the big three are the Promise Act, the Tucker Bill, and a bill drafted by Governor Baker. Budget debates will begin the week of 4/21, and legislators hope to reach a final consensus by June. The resulting piece of legislation will likely be a combination of all three bills, but the goal of our advocacy is to promote the proposals of the Promise Act so that the majority of them are included in the final legislation.
Promise Act- https://malegislature.gov/Bills/191/S238
Tucker Bill- https://malegislature.gov/Bills/191/H576
Governor Baker’s Bill- https://malegislature.gov/Bills/191/H70
There will be a rally at the State House in Boston at 5:00 on May 16 to support this bill, and another rally that same day at 4:30 at Springfield City Hall. There will be meetings with officials and smaller rallies in support of the bill all day, so stop by anytime you’d like. Meetings will be announced soon, and be sure to register for the rally via the link below. Information for both Boston and Springfield can be found on the page.
There will be a guide on drafting testimony released soon, but until then, refer to this sheet if you are interested in writing testimony-
We see the impact of the lack of funding as students, but those who are hit especially hard are the teachers. One great advocacy tactic is asking your teachers and other school faculty members what they think about the current financial situation in schools, and whether they think this bill will help or not. Some may not be aware of the bill, so if they are interested in looking into it, direct them to this page so they do not have to deal with raking through pages of legislative jargon. Do be polite in asking your teachers, and acknowledge that they are busy people who can only do so much in a 24-hour day. Ask if you can use their statements in testimony, and please emphasize that if they agree to do so, they can remain absolutely anonymous.
Useful Links and Sources-
If you have any questions, comments, concerns, or suggestions related to this bill and any actions taken on it, please email Meghan Kane