Excerpts from the Globe’s
“Voices of New England’’ blog
RESTORE FUNDING FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION
As our leaders on Beacon Hill continue their work on the fiscal year 2014 budget, we urge them to consider the students at special education schools in Massachusetts. After years of inequality between state spending on regular education versus special education, it is time to restore funds for special education schools that prepare students with complex needs for adult life.
Providing expert education and learning tools is, indeed, costly. For that reason, the budget line item called the “special education circuit breaker account” was established in 2004. This line item provides tuition reimbursements from the state to school districts to help pay for the cost of sending public students with complex learning needs to specialized private schools. All those whose lives are touched by a child who requires the special education services that the circuit breaker fund provides anxiously wait and hope for that account to be fully funded during the Conference Committee deliberations currently underway. These children can thrive with the kind of education specialized schools offer.
COAKLEY’S SUIT HURTS — NOT HELPS — OUR FISHERMEN
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley recently filed a lawsuit that would reverse the decision of National Marine Fisheries Service regional administrator John Bullard to cut catch limits. This lawsuit sends a bad signal, and if it succeeds, would have negative consequences for both fish and fishermen.
The suit creates a false hope among fishermen that catch limits may be reversed when they should be looking for ways to catch other kinds of fish instead of trying to return to a bounty that no longer exists. Second, the suit sends the message that the members of the New England Fishery Management Council were wrong to impose the limits, and that the work of scientific experts should be overruled.
Third, the lawsuit sends elected officials and stakeholders back to their respective corners, taking sides against NMFS and undoing whatever progress has been made to work together to find constructive solutions.
Finally, the damage that a return to higher catch limits would do to the environment and to the hopes to restore our fish stocks is unacceptable to all of us who want to see fishing continue for future generations.
THE TWO-PARTY LOCK ON POLITICS
Massachusetts is home to some of the most forward-leaning businesses in the world. We have some of the world’s finest universities and hospitals, championship sports teams, and are leading health and tech innovation.
What we don’t have is a functioning, multiparty democracy.
Democrats and Republicans alone hold the reins of power in our longtime two-party system. The result: independent views in our state — many of which differ from the two parties’ platforms — are simply not part of the conversation. As a result, in many respects, voters lose out in terms of broader options and new ideas.
It is odd that in 2013, in a state viewed as being among the most progressive in the nation, people still must struggle to even be included and heard.