Monday, July 9, 2018


Per State House News, Speaker DeLeo today said that the House would take up a school funding bill this week; the bill is not yet released. What we know (via tweets from various reporters):

Now, there IS other language that could fully implement the Foundation Budget Review Commission's recommendations other than the Senate language.

We should, however, be careful, as I noted earlier in this Twitter thread; it's going to very tempting to some to JUST do special education and health insurance. Those are the "everyone has some." What does that leave out? The poor kids and the kids learning English. That would be incredibly unjust.

Let's you forget what those recommendations are, they involved months of study, not only by the Commission but by those consulting and working for them, and included the following:

Regarding ELL students:
1. Convert the ELL increase from a base rate to an increment on the base rate.
2. Apply the increment to vocational school ELL students as well.
3. Increase the increment for all grade levels, including high school, to the current effective middle school increment of $2,361. This would increase the range of ELL-only weightings and expand available funds for staff-intensive high school age interventions.
Note, of course, that the rate above is from 2015; we are now in FY19, so the rate would need to be increased accordingly. We should note, of course, that those who have the most to lose by ignoring ELL students is the vocational schools, which until now have received no funding for English learner students.

And regarding low income:
1. Increase the increment for districts with high concentrations of low income students. The Legislature will need to determine specific increments based on further review of data and debate, but based on its review of national literature, practices in other states, and model districts within our own state, the Commission offers the guidance that that weighting should fall within the range of 50%-100% and that multiple concurrent interventions are necessary to effectively close achievement gaps. The final decision should provide high poverty school districts with enough funding to pursue several turnaround strategies at once.
2. Ensure that any new definition of economically disadvantaged (necessitated by districts’ shift away from collection of free and reduced school lunch eligibility data) properly and accurately count all economically needful students.
3. Leave the exact calculation of each increment to legislative action.
Note that the Commission had done an extensive review and thus had recommendations about what was necessary in order to be successful. They drew on work not only across Masssachusetts, but study across decades of what worked. This was not a harum-scarum report that made stuff up; there was actual data to support the conclusions.
The plan further required that plans be posted online and that districts be allowed flexibility in implementation. 

Thus those two sections are not late additions or subsets or any of the other secondary status they've been afforded in some of the coverage. Yes, the health insurance and special education sections are MORE EXPENSIVE; that doesn't make them MORE IMPORTANT.
In fact, what will demonstrate if the Massachusetts House truly supports the Constitutional guarantee to our education will be if they support the ELL and low income sections. THESE ARE THE NEEDIEST KIDS. These kids, we know, need extra support. If the House ignores them, or further kicks the can, claiming "more study is needed," they don't really support the Constitutional guarantee. It will be the most vulnerable kids--poor kids and kids who don't speak English--who are hurt by such a bill.
And can we, Massachusetts, really afford, particularly in this time, to further disadvantage such children?

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