Equity should be granted, not dangled with strings attached
The state’s K-12 school funding formula is irrefutably out of date and inadequate. Those bearing the brunt of this injustice are children of color, poor communities, and English-language learners. Therefore, it is disturbing to read a Globe editorial trying to distract from this urgent issue with bogus claims that our poor communities of color shouldn’t get more school resources unless there are heavy strings attached (“School spending is more ‘how’ than ‘how much,’ ” June 21).
Affluent white communities take it for granted that their schools will have more than the basics, with no strings attached. Poor communities of color and Gateway cities should be afforded the same rights. Equitable educational opportunities are guaranteed under the Massachusetts Constitution.
It is past time for robust, concrete action to address this injustice. That’s why the New England Area Conference of the NAACP recently joined a lawsuit that named state officials for failing to meet their constitutional obligation to cherish our schools, causing substantial harm to students of color.
Don’t be distracted. It’s time for us to hold the Legislature and the governor accountable. It’s time for them to guarantee school funding adequacy and equity. The best way to do that is through legislation that follows the principles of the Promise Act.
Juan M. Cofield
NAACP, New England Area
Give local communities freedom — and resources — to innovate
The Boston Globe has correctly identified lack of funding for educating low-income students as a major problem in Massachusetts in its recent editorial. In Springfield, one of the poorest, most ethnically diverse school districts in the state, we see what happens to a dream deferred when our students do not have the support they need to thrive.
To help them achieve their dreams, we need the breathing room and support that additional funding would provide — funds for more staff, technology, guidance, enrichment, summer school, and after-school opportunities.
Where the Globe goes wrong is in presuming that local communities are incapable of figuring out what their students need. The Globe advocates for a paternalistic approach, in essence saying, “OK, the state should provide places like Springfield with more money, but only if they implement the ‘reforms’ that state education bureaucrats support.”
One of those reforms, called empowerment or innovation zones, has a mixed record in Springfield. It is certainly not the be-all, end-all method for improving schools. Districts like ours employ hundreds of creative, trained educators. Give us the resources we need and the freedom to innovate, and we can make a world of difference for our students and our communities.
Maureen Colgan Posner
It’ll take leadership and teacher support to make a difference
We agree that money alone will not be enough to turn around our schools. But the Globe editorial board’s suggestions — innovation zones and more supervision from the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education — would make little difference. Strong educational leadership from superintendents and principals is a critical element in helping teachers improve instruction. We’d build on Governor Baker’s idea for a $50 million innovation fund to encourage and assist those superintendents putting forward promising plans for school change.
We’d like to see a competitive grant program aimed at higher expectations for student performance, strong principal leadership, differentiated instruction to challenge each student — not just those who struggle but highfliers as well — at the appropriate level, active student participation in the classroom, use of data analysis to support teachers, frequent short tests to identify students who need extra help and to make sure that every student is making good progress, and a supportive environment where teachers feel safe to try new approaches.
Samuel R. Tyler
Moscovitch is cofounder and retired executive director of Momenta, formerly the Bay State Reading Institute, and is a member of the Foundation Budget Review Commission, which reviewed the state’s education funding system; Saphier is founder and president of Research for Better Teaching; and Tyler is a retired president of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau.
Money without expectations is folly
The editorial “School spending is more ‘how’ than ‘how much’ ” notes that lawmakers are weighing an increase of up to $2.4 billion in annual state funding for public education. This increase focuses on at-risk students in poorer neighborhoods, which tend to have larger populations of minority pupils, children with special needs, and immigrants requiring English-language skills. This is where the Commonwealth’s educational disparities are highest.
We favor this investment and its focus because Massachusetts must have improved education for all students, especially those most in need. However, a battle remains over what the state should expect for its money. A boost of between $1.5 billion and $2.4 billion may mean less funding for other programs and could bring tax increases. It would be a mistake to set aside that much new money without requirements to support high-needs students, change unsuccessful programs, and hold schools and districts accountable.
The Globe editorial noted that “how” is more important than “how much.” Governor Baker calls for “more and better.” We believe that resources are necessary but, by themselves, not sufficient to achieve success for underserved students. Money without expectations is folly.
The Legislature must provide guidance and give Education Commissioner Jeff Riley the power to monitor and require progress. To do otherwise would be a dereliction of duty.
Boston Leaders for