Welcome to the home to United Teachers of Lowell's Straight Talk podcast. Each Wednesday we'll post a new interview with useful news and information for our members. We hope you'll come back each week to learn what's new! 

Episode 31: Fund Our Future Campaign,  Part 2

Episode 31: Fund Our Future Campaign, Part 2

When we talk about underfunded schools and the effects of over 25 years of Foundation Budget calculations that have not been revised, it is quite easy to see how school districts across Massachusetts eventually start to feel the pain. Colin Jones from Mass Budget and Policy Center prepared this video explainer recently about how Chapter 70 impacts different communities to differing degrees: those communities with greater agility to raise local revenues through, say, property taxes, have been able to put off draconian budget cuts. Lowell, however, is not so fortunate.

Our student population has many needs. Some children enter our school system with limited English Language and have needs associated with learning English as they acquire academic skills. Others experience the traumas resulting from socio-economic hardships. Those basic human needs - adequate food, clothing, and shelter - also need to be addressed. And some of our students have academic challenges that we, as a responsive community, are committed to meeting. The current calculation of the under-funding of aid that should be coming to Lowell is currently $43 Million dollars. That would, as Jeremy points out in this podcast segment, provide for many services that currently are not offered to our students here in Lowell but are often provided for students in more affluent communities such as Wellesley, Weston and even Burlington.

While it might seem that after 25 years, a revision to the state formula calculating the cost of educating students might be obvious, it does not appear to be clear to all in the Massachusetts Legislature. We are fortunate that two of the Lowell Statehouse Delegation, Senator Ed Kennedy and Representative Rady Mom, are co-sponsoring their respective Senate and House dockets and bills; but we need every member of the Statehouse Delegations from all communities across Massachusetts to support this legislation.

In Part 2 of our conversation with AFT-MA President Beth Kontos and AFT-MA Engagement and Campaign Coordinator Jeremy Shenk, they speak with us about some of the impact underfunding and the out-of-date Foundation Budget calculations have, in particular, on urban schools.

How can you help? We have a couple of suggestions for you:

  1. Contact your Massachusetts legislators in both the Senate and House. If they are not supporting either SD101 (Senate) or HD434 (House) ask them why not. Make sure that our Statehouse Delegations across the Commonwealth know the impact that you feel in your classroom, in your child’s educational offerings, and in your community.

  2. If you are a United Teachers of Lowell 495 member, please access the members-only survey asking about how much of your personal funding goes to support your students in your classroom. The link to the survey is in our Five for Friday email blast, but feel free to contact the UTL at to receive the link. We will use this data to reinforce that our members often make up the gap between what is funded and what is not so that our students do not go without.

  3. Attend the March 11, 2019 Legislative Forum (snow date, March 18). The Forum will feature an opportunity to tell your story about how underfunding impacts Lowell students and families. The Forum is scheduled to begin at 6 pm at the Lowell Senior Center on Broadway Street in Lowell. Please click on the flyers (now available in English and Spanish - other translations TBD).

The Podcast Twins thank both Beth Kontos and Jeremy Shenk for joining us by remote in the middle of our latest installment of a “wintry mix”.

We also thank you, our listeners and especially to UTL members for tuning in to this Episode. We welcome your general comments and feedback. If you have suggestions for future podcasts or if you are aware of a UTL member who might be willing to share expertise and experiences, please email us at

And of course, if you enjoy our podcasts, be sure to spread the word - or share with a friend (or two).

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Episode 32: A Blue Ribbon Chat with Paul Georges

Episode 32: A Blue Ribbon Chat with Paul Georges

Episode 30: An Urgent Need to Fund Our Future

Episode 30: An Urgent Need to Fund Our Future