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Major Education Hearing, Advocacy Day at MA Capitol

More than a dozen education-related bills will be discussed at a public hearing on Friday at the Massachusetts State House. (Jim Bowen/Flickr)
More than a dozen education-related bills will be discussed at a public hearing on Friday at the Massachusetts State House. (Jim Bowen/Flickr)
March 21, 2019

BOSTON – There is a higher education advocacy day on Thursday and a public hearing on Friday at the Joint Committee on Education about 17 education-related bills.

The Fund Our Future campaign – a coalition of education activists, students and parents – supports the PROMISE and CHERISH acts. These bills are asking for $1.5 billion per year in additional education funding for pre K-12 and higher education.

The $1.5 billion amount is based on the recommendations of two state commissions in 2014 and 2015.

Delia Fuentes, a student at Springfield Technical Community College, says higher education in Massachusetts needs more funding so students like her can afford to study, and not have to work so hard to pay for it.

"I'm a full-time student and I have three part-time jobs, and it's ridiculously hard to stay at an A-average,” she states. “I just feel like it shouldn't have to be that hard."

Fuentes is urging state legislators to support the CHERISH act for higher education and the PROMISE act for pre K-12 because students need more funding to have affordable and quality education.

On Friday, both the PROMISE act and Gov. Charlie Baker's education act will be heard, among others. The governor's bill recommends less funding for public education and disbursing the money over seven years.

Zena Link, a long-time public school educator and education activist, says people forget that the state education funding formula – known as the foundation budget – has been around for more than 25 years.

"A formula was put in place years ago and it's never been fully funded,” she states. “And there's a disproportionate number of communities, particularly rural communities, gateway cities and school districts that are primarily students of color, that continue to be grossly underfunded."

Link says another thing the public doesn't understand is how much money teachers in under-resourced schools often spend on their students.

"Most educators will admit that they spend their own financial resources to provide the students what they need: thousands and thousands of dollars," she states.

The public higher education advocacy day starts at 10 a.m. Thursday at the State House. Friday, the Joint Committee on Education is holding a public hearing on bills related to school finance.

Laura Rosbrow-Telem, Public News Service - MA