The Foundation Budget Review Commission, a bipartisan group of legislators and educators, released their findings on the state of education funding in Massachusetts and their recommendation for an ambitious new funding plan that would allow schools to more fully support programs to increase educational equity. While the plan would cost about half a billion dollars per year, it would also be the first step in addressing the substantial opportunity gap that exists in Massachusetts.
This proposal was in part influenced by a presentation by Schott-grantee Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center on their Roadmap to Expanding Opportunity project. Roadmap to Expanding Opportunity provides clear and easily accessible policy briefs on ways to support high-quality education for all students in Massachusetts. That they were able to use this project to help inform the Commission demonstrates its value as a tool for promoting educational policies that will lead to better opportunities to learn for all children, and the potential value for other states and cities that would be interested in taking the same approach.
The commission's final report found that currently, both health care costs and special education services are currently allotted less funding than they actually require. They also propose increasing spending on ELL services, and include a range of recommendations for improving services for lower-income students. After considering successful schools and their best practices, the commission recommendations included:
- Increasing the increment for districts with high percentages of low-income students
- Ensuring that the new definition of low-income will accurately count students
- Requiring districts to publicly post their plans on how funds will successfully help low-income and ELL students
- Encouraging districts to use best practices like extended school days, wraparound services, more professional development, and expanding early education options.
These recommendations, if adopted, would considerably help lower-income and ELL students receive the types of educational opportunities they deserve. While the commission's proposal is likely to face numerous roadblocks in actually establishing it, it shows how the direction of policy can be influenced by education advocates. If you would like to read the entire report, you can find it here. To read our previous blogs on the Roadmap to Expanding Opportunity, go here.