Thursday, February 11, 2016

"We're all in this together" until the education budget needs funding

Last night's comments by Worcester City Manager Augustus to CPPAC that Governor Baker had done a "pretty good job" putting the state budget together, and that schools and city were "all in this together," reminded me of the blowup at the local government meeting with Governor Baker the day before.
“The administration’s public focus is overwhelmingly on charter schools, and while our excellent vocational schools have also received your attention, the majority of public school students are not significantly helped by this budget,” King Phillip Regional School Committee member Patrick Francomano told the governor during a meeting with local officials. Francomano, the immediate past president of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, said the group is also concerned that Baker and his team “ignored” the recommendations of a 21-member Foundation Budget Review Commission, which held extensive meetings and suggested making formula changes to address the growing costs of the “two biggies” – health care and special education.
“Some of our constituents say that the administration’s commitment to true public education is disingenuous, while others say we are failing to fulfill our constitutional obligation. We are hoping very sincerely that we can continue to work together to assist and improve public education for all of the students,” Francomano said. 
To say that it wasn't well received by the Governor is putting it lightly, but what is telling is how fast the Mass Municipal Association--the group that represents city and town governments--was to back away from any agreement with MASC:
Massachusetts Municipal Association Executive Director Geoff Beckwith, both during and after meeting, sought to distance his group from the comments made by members of the Association of School Committees. 
“In no way do we question the administration’s support for public education,” Beckwith said.

Here's the thing: it's lovely that the Governor is increasing local aid by what he said he would. That in no way changes or removes the responsibility he has for the state's side of public education IN the actual cities and towns that the aid goes to. The state itself has issued a report---which came out of a commission on which the Governor was fully represented--that the education budget is undercalculated and underfinanced. The Governor, in his budget recommendation, chose to ignore it. That IS NOT supporting public education.
And that means it isn't supporting cities and towns, either. Education budget or no, we ARE all in this together.
We should act like it.

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