No Deal on FRBC

Last night the effort to move forward with the Foundation Budget Review Commission recommendations to increase funding to local school districts was killed in committee after negotiations between the House and Senate broke down at the last minute.

Shortly before the midnight end of the legislative session, State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz of Jamaica Plain revealed that no deal had been reached on the so-called “foundation budget” bill.

Chang-Diaz, Beacon Hill’s top advocate for increased school funding, bitterly accused House leadership of using “rationalizations and double standards” to prevent any prospective deal — even, finally, of rejecting one of its own proposals to kill the bill.

In a statement, House Speaker Robert DeLeo said he was “proud” of the legislature’s accomplishments. “The Massachusetts House passed vital measures this legislative session, including those relating to paid family and medical leave, criminal justice reform, minimum wage, energy and environmental policy, and gun safety, among other items.”

For the past week, Chang-Diaz, her education-committee co-chair Rep. Alice Peisch of Wellesley, and four other members of a conference committee worked behind closed doors to reconcile the two chambers’ different approaches to a school-funding gap.

Of course, it would be easy to back the Senate bill. Tons of money, no details, little accountability for what happens to the money. It’s everything a union activist would love. Hence the major showdown, that even featured a screaming temper tantrum in the hallways of the Statehouse by the union-backed, union-funded front-group “Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance” who thought that sending MTA members to scream at the chair of the Joint Committee on Education (to the point where the Sergeant at Arms needed to be called) was a good idea.

See for yourself.

Aggressively bullying the House Chair on behalf of the Senate bill. How did that legislative strategy work for you?

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The problem of course being the fact that while everyone understands that we need to increase school funding in Massachusetts, we also need a targeted plan for what that money needs to be used for — with very specific outcomes. Alice Peisch is not stupid. She knows what would happen with the avalanche of money hitting districts without specific plans or tangible accountability points to determine that this new funding actually make an impact for our kids.

Personally, I don’t understand how the taxpayers of the Commonwealth can be expected to get behind a plan that is so loose on specifics that we’re not even sure if it’s $1 billion or $2 billion dollars allocated to local districts. I mean, seriously — one billion, two billion — who knows, right?

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Yes, we need more funding for public education. But we also need that money to actually work for our children. We need to fix the funding formulas so they can directly address the opportunity gaps facing children of color and children from low income families. 

And we need to stop handling this situation like a hostage situation. We have the best and brightest education minds in the nation in Massachusetts and y’all act like we have no idea how to make this happen. Trust me, folks know what we need to do on the local and state level. It’s about having the political cajones to do it.

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Yes, the public supports more money in education. Why? Because they think you’re going to actually do effective things with it.

You want more money? Show us the plan.

Throwing more money at local districts so school committees can continue to negotiate themselves into ridiculously unsustainable union contracts that win them political points but leave kids holding the short end of the stick is not the solution to fix the problems facing Massachusetts education.

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Oh yes, we see you boo.

What do you think?

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