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Rally for Public Education Saturday: Investment, Resistance

Expect Boston Common to be crowded on Saturday as students, educators and union members lead a rally calling for full funding of public education. (MassTeachers)
Expect Boston Common to be crowded on Saturday as students, educators and union members lead a rally calling for full funding of public education. (MassTeachers)
May 18, 2017

BOSTON – Students, parents, educators and community and union members will converge on Boston Common Saturday to demand full investment in public education.

A driving force behind the rally is the Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance, which is calling on the state to invest $2 billion in pre-K, public schools and public colleges.

The Massachusetts Teachers Association is part of the alliance, and the association's president, Barbara Madeloni, says one of the goals is resistance to any rollback of support for public education.

"We are going to resist the Trump/DeVos agenda, looking to privatize our schools, which agenda is also being pushed by our Governor (Charlie) Baker and Secretary of Education (James) Peyser, so we are going to resist," she states.

In 2015, the Foundation Budget Review Commission concluded the state was underfunding pre-K by at least $1 billion per year. A separate commission saw a similar need for greater investment in public higher education.

The Rally for Public Education takes place from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday on Boston Common.

Recent University of Massachusetts graduate Zac Bears says Massachusetts has to catch up with other states in providing a debt-free college education. The current system, he says, is not working.

"I chose to go to UMass-Amherst, the public option, and I paid $40,000 out of pocket, myself and my family, and I have another $30,000 in student debt,” he relates. “We really need debt-free public higher education, so that people from working class backgrounds can get the education that they need."

Madeloni says the rally plans to build on momentum and lessons learned from last year's fight against lifting the cap on charter schools.

"What we learned from that is that residents of Massachusetts really value public education and want it fully funded,” she states. “So, we're having this rally to say we're not going away. We played defense and we won. Now it's time to play offense and to really work together for the school our communities deserve."

The alliance also is calling for passing a Millionaires Tax or Fair Share Amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution in 2018 to adequately fund public schools and colleges.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - MA