Joan Bonsignore: The Promise Act would provide a brighter future for all students

Published: 6/5/2019 8:20:24 PM

I began my teaching career in the 1980s, and it is discouraging to see how state legislation has negatively impacted K-12 public education.

Money is increasingly siphoned from direct public school services into a growing bureaucracy, supporting and overseeing such things as standardized testing and complicated teacher evaluation protocols, as well as public funding of private entities such as businesses paid to create these measurements and charter schools.

Districts with large numbers of economically disadvantaged families are not sufficiently funded by the state, and the achievement gap between affluent districts, which can contribute more to taxes, and low income districts is ever-widening.

This situation is compounded by the antiquated state formula for determining the cost of educating students and for providing the needed dollars to ensure low income districts of adequate funding.

The current state formula for determining base level per pupil funding was enacted in 1993 and does not account for such things as rising health insurance costs for staff, devastating to local budgets; increasing costs of special education paid for out-of-district students; increasing enrollments of English Language Learners; and increasing enrollments of students of color, often concentrated in economically disadvantaged communities.

It is time for the state to provide a brighter future for all students in the state public education system. The Fund Our Future campaign has proposed The Promise Act, which would implement all of the recommendations made by the Foundation Budget Review Commission for K-12, providing greater support for low-income students, for educating students with disabilities and English learners, for addressing increasing costs of health insurance, and for guaranteeing all districts minimum increases in aid each year of $50 per student.

The opposing Baker Bill and Tucker Bill do not come close to providing the necessary adjustments to state funding and include harmful, counter-productive accountability measurements. It is truly time to recognize that the only future for all of us is to invest in the youth of today, who will be the leaders of tomorrow.

We cannot afford to allow for any more deep cuts in public education. Let us pass The Promise Act.

Joan Bonsignore

Belchertown




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