Strong local accountability matters in state school funding bill

The Boston Globe recently editorialized against an amendment to the Student Opportunity Act, legislation to update the state school funding formula. The amendment clarified the original intent of the bill and strengthened local accountability.

In response, CPS Testing Policy Circle member Jennifer Debin wrote this letter:

The disagreement over accountability language in the education funding bill is simple: Do state officials know better what should happen in schools, or do local educators?

If state officials have all the answers, it makes sense for them to overrule local decisions and impose policies. That’s the approach since No Child Left Behind, and results are lackluster.

In contrast, people who know the children by name have good ideas about how to help them learn.

The original language was ambiguous because it said local districts should change their plans to suit the state, but what if districts decide their plans are better? The amendment made clear that the state advises but local people decide.   → Read More

CPS speaks for charter accountability & local democratic control at Joint Education Committee hearing

Advocacy takes persistence, so CPS was back at the statehouse on Monday, October 7, for a hearing before the Joint Committee on Education. It was standing room only at the committee’s public hearing on “Charter Schools and Miscellaneous topics,” so we waited for hours to speak. Executive Director Lisa Guisbond, Board Member Carol Savage and CPS member Christine Langhoff spoke in favor of three bills that would improve charter school accountability, transparency, and local democratic control: H.593, An Act to ensure charter school transparency and public accountability; S.314, An Act relative to local approval for charter schools; and S.298, An Act relative to the financial impact of charter schools.

To read the CPS testimony, click here.

We spoke against H.3853, An Act relative to the operation of charter schools in New Bedford, and H.496, An Act relative to establishing a private school tuition deduction task force.   → Read More

Mass. Senate Unanimously Passes Student Opportunity Act

CPS is proud to be a founding member of the Fund Our Future coalition. Here is the Fund Our Future statement on the Massachusetts Senate’s unanimous passage of the Student Opportunity Act Thursday, October 3, 2019:

BOSTON – The Fund Our Future campaign today issued the following statement regarding the Senate’s passage of the Student Opportunity Act, which would implement the recommendations of the 2015 Foundation Budget Review Commission and increase state PreK-12 aid to local districts by $1.5 billion per year over inflation, after a seven-year phase-in:

“Students, parents, union educators, and community advocates all across the state have been demanding fully- and equitably-funded schools for years. Today, the Senate listened and did the right thing by passing the Student Opportunity Act. Today’s historic vote brings us another step closer to finally ensuring that every student in Massachusetts, no matter what community they live in, has the same access to a great public education.

“We are particularly pleased that the Senate included language in the bill that ensures local community control of our public schools while also providing for improved transparency. Now, we look forward to seeing the Student Opportunity Act passed by the House, so that we can deliver the equitable school funding that students and our communities deserve.”

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The Fund Our Future campaign was formed to end the generation-long underfunding of local public schools and public colleges and universities in Massachusetts and is endorsed by the following members: Act on Mass, AFT Massachusetts, Alliance for Brookline Schools, Asian American Resource Workshop, Boston Democratic Socialists of America (BDSA), Boston Education Equity Coalition, Boston Education Justice Alliance, Boston Teachers Union, CEPA at UMass Amherst, Citizens for Public Schools, College Dems of MA, Hampshire Franklin Labor Council, Interfaith Worker Justice, JALSA, Jewish Labor Committee, La Communidad, La Voz de la Comunidad – Framingham, Local 26 Unite Here, Lowell Education Justice Alliance, Mass COSH, Massachusetts Communities Action Network , Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance, Massachusetts Jobs with Justice, Massachusetts Teachers Association, Massachusetts Voter Table, Merrimack Valley Central Labor Council, MNA, NAACP New England Area Conference, North Shore Labor Council, Pioneer Valley Labor Council, Pioneer Valley Street Heat, Progressive Massachusetts, Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts (PHENOM), PUMA Parent Union of Mass, QUEST (Quality Education for Every Student), Revere Youth in Action, SEIU 888, Showing Up for Racial Justice, Tikkun Olam Congregation Bnai Israel Northampton, Union of Minority Neighborhoods, Women Encouraging Empowerment, and Youth on Board.   → Read More

CPS statement on 2019 MCAS results: MCAS not about real education, equity or justice

The latest MCAS results point to three conclusions:

First, Massachusetts school and district accountability system is not helping students, even by its own limited criteria, test scores. The nation is moving away from standardized test scores as the true measure of learning, but Massachusetts state officials hang on.

Second, the decisions about what it means to “meet expectations” or to qualify for a diploma in this state are driven by politics, not educational wisdom or experience. That’s why the same percentage of students qualify for diplomas as last year, even though the test is different and supposedly has higher standards. Officials feel that if they flunk too many students, the whole edifice will come tumbling down. Under the old tests, the standards were higher for the elementary grades than for high school for the same reason: The high school was required for graduation and parents would revolt if the state refused to give diplomas to too many students.   → Read More

CPS Statement on Release of the”Student Opportunity Act”

The details of this bill are promising and a testament to the hard work and commitment of tens of  thousands of public education advocates – unionized educators, parents, students, and everyone who recognizes that public schools are the foundation of our democracy.

We applaud the Education Committee for listening to our grass roots movement and for their hard work so far.

Much work remains, however, to ensure the final bill is something to be proud ofWe in Citizens for Public Schools and the Fund Our Future Coalition will continue to be vigilant and vocal until the best possible bill is signed, sealed and delivered. And our vigilance will continue even after that happens, to be sure the added funds go to real educational needs and support the vision of our communities for educational quality and equity. — CPS Executive Director Lisa Guisbond   → Read More