Fund Our Future Campaign Responds to Governor Baker’s Budget
BOSTON – Lisa Guisbond, Executive Director of Citizens for Public Schools and a leader of the Fund Our Future campaign of students, educators, parents and community leaders from across Massachusetts, today issued the following statement regarding Governor Charlie Baker’s budget proposal:
“It’s nice to see Governor Baker finally admit that our public schools and colleges are underfunded, but we have been living with the effects of this underfunding for decades. Baker’s proposal makes a dent in the problem, but today’s college-aged students have suffered with underfunded public schools and colleges their entire life. With Governor Baker’s proposed seven-year phase-in, today’s sixth graders would face the same fate. We will not accept another generation being deprived of its constitutionally guaranteed right to a quality public education.
“We’re particularly disappointed by Baker’s limited, one-time response to the severe funding crisis in our public colleges and universities, which does not provide a long-term solution to the cost crisis affecting students and families across the state. And his proposal to take resources away from K-12 students whose schools are struggling, when those are clearly the communities that need the most help, is simply nonsensical. Many students today lack librarians and counselors, or they’re being forced to drop out of public college because of the high cost of tuition and fees, and Baker’s proposal still leaves them behind.
“Students, educators, parents, community leaders, legislators, and other experts all know what we need — the funding the state promised years ago. Since the Education Reform Act of 1993, teachers and students have done our part with years of strict accountability measures, but the state has failed to provide the money it promised. We need this funding not for wishes or dreams, but just to pay for the basics of a great education for every student. Meanwhile, state higher education funding has declined by a third at a time when a college education is ever more necessary for students to succeed.
“We’ve known about these failures for years, and the Foundation Budget Review Commission and the Higher Education Finance Commission made the need clear before the end of Baker’s first year in office. We have a once-in-a-generation chance to fix the profound funding crisis in our public education system, but this proposal is just more of the same inadequate measures we’ve come to expect from Baker. We don’t need Baker’s cautious steps, and we don’t need to punish kids whose underfunded schools can’t keep up. We need the legislature to take strong action by passing the Education PROMISE Act and the CHERISH Act to fund our future.”
The Fund Our Future campaign was formed to end the generation-long underfunding of local public schools and public colleges and universities in Massachusetts and is endorsed by the following members: American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts, Boston Teachers Union, Citizens for Public Schools, FairTest, Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action (JALSA), Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance, Massachusetts Jobs With Justice, Massachusetts Teachers Association, NAACP New England Area Conference, PHENOM — the Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts, and SEIU Local 888. The campaign is calling on the Legislature to pass two bills that meet the recommendations of the state’s bipartisan Foundation Budget Review Commission and the Higher Education Finance Commission by increasing state funding for preK-12 public schools by $1 billion a year and increasing state funding for public colleges and universities by more than $500 million a year. Advocates are calling for this major reinvestment in public education to happen this spring – in time for local communities to include the funding in the next academic year’s budget and in time for public college students to avoid tuition and fee hikes this fall.
The Education PROMISE Act, filed by Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz and Representatives Aaron Vega and Mary Keefe, would implement the recommendations of the bipartisan Foundation Budget Review Commission, which found in 2015 that the state is underfunding public education by at least $1 billion a year. The commission found that the state’s funding formula fails to account for the cost of four specific items: educating students who have disabilities, are English learners, or are from low-income families, and managing the rising cost of health insurance for staff. Since 2002, annual K-12 funding from the state has been cut by $405 million in inflation-adjusted dollars. Nationally, Massachusetts ranks 33rd in the share of our states’ economic resources dedicated to public education. As a result, many students aren’t getting a well-rounded education including small classes, music and art, science, technology, engineering, and math education, and public school staff including counselors, paraprofessionals, special education teachers and librarians.
The CHERISH Act, filed by Senator Jo Comerford and Representatives Paul Mark and Sean Garballey, would implement the core recommendation of the state’s Higher Education Finance Commission, which found in 2014 that the state is underfunding our public colleges and universities by more than $500 million a year in inflation-adjusted dollars. Since 2001, state funding of public colleges and universities has declined dramatically, from $12,000 per student each year to only $8,000 per student. As a result, Massachusetts has the fastest-growing public college costs and the second-fastest growth in student debt in the nation. Tuition and fees at Massachusetts’ public colleges and universities are among the highest in the country. Costs are being shifted onto students and families, who are forced to take on enormous debt. Today, the average UMass student is graduating with over $30,000 in student debt, and the average graduate of our state universities leaves school with over $25,000 in student debt. At the same time, full-time tenured faculty members are being replaced by part-time instructors who are paid much less, have no job security, and often do not receive health insurance coverage.
Contact: Steve Crawford, 857-753-4132, firstname.lastname@example.org, Andrew Farnitano, 925-917-1354, email@example.com
January 23, 2019