Episode 35: Funding Our Future, Voices from Lowell's Legislative Forum
As almost everyone with a stake in public education knows, Massachusetts funding of Public School education is in dire need of updating. Since 1993 when Education Reform and the Foundation Budget calculations were developed, there has been little done by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to update the funding formulae and account for changes in costs over the past 26 years.
Last July, after the Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed legislation to update the Foundation Budget formulae, the attention turned to the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Sadly, the Foundation Budget Reform legislation was unsuccessful in the House and the entire effort fell short.
A broad coalition of advocates for not only K-12 public education funding reforms, but also Massachusetts public higher education reform worked together throughout the Fall of 2018. In early January 2019 when the new Legislature was seated, the coalition presented two critical Acts designed to provide funds for all students across Massachusetts public education systems. The two acts, the Promise Act and the Cherish Act, endeavor to bring critical funding support to K-12 public education and public higher education respectively.
As part of the state-wide and local coalitions working together, Lowell Education Justice Alliance or LEJA, has been hard at work in the Merrimack Valley to bring attention to the critical effort to update funding of our public schools. Along with LEJA, there is broad support from Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance (MEJA), Massachusetts American Federation of Teachers or AFT-MA, Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA), SEIU, and teachers’ union locals in the Lowell area, including UTL495. By establishing this broad coalition and working with students, parents, and the community at large, we intend to bring attention to the needs that our schools are experiencing and work to fund our public schools adequately for the next school year.
On Monday, March 11, 2019, the groups sponsored a well-attended Legislative Forum which included Senator Ed Kennedy and a representative from Senator Barry Finegold’s office, and Representatives Rady Mom, Tami Gouveia, Tom Golden, Marc Lombardo, and a representatives from David Nangle’s office. Parents, students, educators, school administrators, and community members spoke about how underfunding schools has made a personal impact. We were fortunate to speak to several of the participants before and after their testimony, and we have compiled some of their ideas in our podcast., Episode 35.
It is clear that while many in the Massachusetts Legislature do understand the impact of under-funding schools and why that must change, not everyone does. We hope you, our listeners will consider joining this effort to convince local Legislators that our students cannot wait. We need to fix the Foundation Budget Formula now and Fund Our Future.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Lowell is, according the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, underfunded by $42 Million each year. You can read more about Lowell’s underfunding by downloading this flyer.
BUT, Lowell is not alone in underfunded Foundation Budget funding. Get the Facts about Funding Our Future by linking to AFT-MA Fund Our Future website OR use this interactive map from MTA to select a city or town in MA and discover how much that municipality is underfunded.
Confused about how the Foundation Budget works. We were too - take a look at this short video featuring Colin Jones from Massachusetts Budget & Policy Center. Mass Budget & Policy Center also maintains an excellent website of resources if you are looking for more information.
Lowell Education Justice Alliance (LEJA) meets regularly in Lowell to advocate for students and public education locally. You can keep up with their efforts by joining the group on Facebook OR emailing email@example.com for more details. All who are interested in Lowell Public education, whether a students, parent, educator or community member are welcome to attend meetings.
LEJA is affiliated with Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance or MEJA. You can visit the MEJA website for more information by clicking here.
If you are moved to contact your State Legislator to add your own voice and to raise your concerns about the Foundation Budget, you can find contact information for every member of the Massachusetts Senate or House by using Find My Legislator.
United Teachers Of Lowell 495 is participating in several statewide events for Fund Our Future. Please be sure to check our email blast, Five for Friday for dates and times. We welcome all members to make suggestions for future events.
PHENOM, of Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts, has a lot of information about the higher education funding bill, the Cherish Act.
If you were unable to attend the Forum, you can see a video recording of the presentations on Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance’s Facebook page.
Special thanks to the tribe of passionate public education advocates who worked to plan and coordinate last Monday’s Legislative Forum. We also thank the Legislators and their staff who took time to listen to the community. Even when we don’t completely agree with each other, it is imperative that all of us to listen and share ideas. We are grateful to our speakers who were willing to tell their stories at the microphone. We appreciate your passion and your voices. And we thank everyone - parents, grandparents, students, school administrators, educators, and the community at large for attending the forum.
We encourage listeners to check the links above for more information about the Foundation Budget, to contact your Legislators, and to add your voices to the effort to Fund Our Future. For United Teachers of Lowell members, our email blast, Five for Friday will continue to have more information as it becomes available.
We also thank you, our listeners, and especially 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
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