For Immediate Release
Massachusetts Parents United Applauds New Education Funding Bill
Parent Calls for Increased Focus on Accountability and Transparency
Reflected in the Student Opportunity Act
(BOSTON, MA) The Joint Committee on Education today released the Student Opportunity Act, a bill that proposes to enact the full recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission by increasing education funding by $1.5 billion via restructuring of the Chapter 70 formula while establishing a new annual innovation fund and ensuring school districts provide plans to immediately address the achievement and opportunity gaps that persist across the Commonwealth.
“In the past year, thousands of parents marched on Beacon Hill making it clear they wanted additional funding and also a plan for how that funding would immediately begin to address the achievement gap crisis in Massachusetts. Blank checks are simply not enough. The Student Opportunity Act fulfills our hopes for how the state can better support our children’s education,” said Keri Rodrigues, Founder of Massachusetts Parents United.
Massachusetts Parents United believes the Student Opportunity Act makes significant progress toward the goal of providing more funding while taking positive steps toward fulfilling the commitment of directing funding toward the best practices and student-focused accountability that ensure our children are achieving the outcomes we all agree they deserve. Highlights of parent priorities reflected in the Student Opportunity Act include:
- Increasing education funding by $1.5 billion in Chapter 70 aid over and above inflation
- Empowering the Commissioner to establish statewide targets and annual benchmarks for addressing persistent disparities in student achievement among student subgroups by subject matter and grade level, both in the aggregate and within subcategories.
- Requiring districts to establish targets for addressing persistent disparities in student achievement that are consistent with state targets, and develop 3 year plans to meet said targets with input from parents and relevant community stakeholders.
- Requires a district’s 3 year plan to include a description of how Ch.70 funds will be allocated by foundation category among schools to support the 3 year plan and the relationship between the allocation of funds and the needs of the district’s English learners and low-income students, a description of the programs and supports the district will implement to address persistent disparities in student achievement, metrics the district will use to measure their success. DESE will also develop standard metrics that may be incorporated into districts’ 3 year plans which may include results from statewide assessments,
- Requires districts submit 3-year plans to DESE to ensure it sets forth clear and achievable goals and standards for student improvement and annually submit plans to track success. Districts will be required to amend plans not in compliance with DESE standards Plans shall be made available on both DESE’s and submitting districts’ websites.
- Establishment of the Data Advisory Commission for the purpose of improving the use of state, district, and school-level data to inform effective resource allocations at the district and school levels. The Commission will make recommendations on using data more effectively to assess student needs and address persistent disparities in achievement.
- Expanding the state’s special education reimbursement program with an estimated annual cost of $90 million to include out-of-district transportation funding;
- Establishing the $70 million 21st Century Education Trust Fund
- Fully funding charter school reimbursement costs
MPU specifically urged the legislature to support additional investment in innovation and to guarantee these funds will target evidence-based practices that will close the achievement, opportunity and belief gaps that persist in Massachusetts classrooms and take seriously the Foundation Budget Review Commission’s recommendation that the chapter 70 reforms encourage districts to “fund the best practices that have been found successful.”
“Together, we know we can continue to make sure our children remain at the center of our education policy discussion and their needs come first,” said Rodrigues.
With more than 12,000 members and reaching more than 200,000 families each month, Massachusetts Parents United is the largest parent advocacy organization in the Commonwealth. MPU harnesses the power of parents to advocate for safer neighborhoods, affordable housing, food security and equitable access to high-quality education.
We thank the Chairs of the Joint Committee on Education, Senator Jason Lewis and Representative Alice Peisch, for giving parents from across the state an opportunity to ensure their voices were heard while taking on the incredible challenge of updating the state’s school funding formula. We also thank Senate President Karen Spilka and Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo for their deep commitment to our children.