Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Seattle Times looks at Massachusetts education funding

And there's a Worcester connection.
The Seattle Times has the first of a two-part education funding series up (as of yesterday) comparing the Massachusetts funding system to that of Washington state and finding the latter wanting. Overall, it's a good piece: it captures that the "Massachusetts miracle" in education was driven by an enormous new commitment of resources that accounted both for student need and for community ability to contribute (and points out that Washington needs to do the same).

A few things worth mentioning:
  • Using Worcester Tech as a "metaphor for understanding the state's overall change" is misleading. While Tech (and every other vocational) gets substantially more funding per pupil, it (and most other vocationals) also have substantial private support. The timeline of Worcester Tech's changes also don't exactly match up with the foundation budget being implemented. Further, I think this is the first time I've read largely positive coverage of Worcester Tech that does mention its 50% admission rate and rightly connects this to student performance. (Likewise Tech's "similar peers") The little bit that could be mentioned here is that new building led to different kids applying, which led to a different student body, none of which had anything to do with the state reconsidering the funding of education. Usual disclaimer: no, I'm not slamming Tech. If we're going to make these complaints about charters, though, we'd darn well better own up to them when we do it ourselves.
  • I appreciate that they resisted looking (and h/t to Barbara Madeloni of the MTA for calling them on it) only at testing data. 
  • I really appreciate that in a piece that focuses on getting Washington to step one, they include that Massachusetts needs to get to step two (looking again): "The original Massachusetts equation has not been revisited in decades, nor kept pace with rising costs, squeezing low-income schools again and dulling the shine of those original ideals." We're now being called out on this in Seattle; could we do something about it now?
Again, worth a read. 

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