10/3/2019 0 Comments
Boston City Councilor At-Large Michael F. Flaherty Calls for Adoption of Necessary Amendments and Passage of the Student Opportunity Act
Boston City Councilor At-Large Michael F. Flaherty calls upon the State Legislature to adopt necessary amendments and pass the Student Opportunity Act (S.2350: An Act Relative to Educational Opportunity for Students) as an urgently needed tool to help alleviate the achievement gap in Boston Public Schools. The newly introduced state legislative proposal, recently presented by the Joint Committee on Education, is the latest in the state’s comprehensive effort to provide a 21st century quality education system for all of Boston’s students. The bill is an absolutely vital budgetary bill that will enable Massachusetts to finally provide the opportunities and educational investment that both students and teachers direly need.
The Student Opportunity Act seeks to close the funding gap in how the public education system is budgeted. This necessary legislation builds on the work that was proposed through the Promise Act - seeking to update the Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993 by adding a new funding mechanism to the Chapter 70 education aid formula. As a result of this bill, school districts across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts can collectively expect an estimated $1.5 billion in additional revenue. The additional funding will support the expansion of services for student wellness, along with protecting school employees from high healthcare costs by ensuring that funding allocations for healthcare are more accurate, and other critical changes. The Student Opportunity Act will allow for a forward-thinking approach to how our students and teachers should have the resources needed for a successful learning environment.
“While Boston Public Schools have made great investments and resources in our school system during recent years, along with leveraging public-private partnerships, we are past-due on an overhaul in our approach to school funding,” said Councilor Flaherty. “Every budget season, the Boston City Council hears the concerns of families and students alike, finding ourselves short on funding in desperately needed areas. We have been underfunded by the current mechanisms, so now is the time to work with our colleagues at the State House to implement a solution that will address the inequities that have made their way into our classrooms.”
The Student Opportunity Act is still under review by the State Legislature. Councilor Flaherty specifically calls for the adoption of Amendments 14, 17, 19 and 61. These Amendments reinforce the core of the bill, in that they set the guidelines surrounding how the bill will benefit ESL and low-income students, address the infrastructure for charter school establishments and their financial impacts on their communities, and establish concrete charter school seating caps, while adding representatives from the Massachusetts Teachers Association and the American Federation of Teachers to several important education advisory councils. Councilor Flaherty calls upon all stakeholders to contact their state elected officials to advocate for the adoption of these amendments and the passage of this Act which aims to reduce the academic and opportunity gaps for all students in Boston’s schools, including those who are from lower-income households, are English language learners, and/or have different cognitive/physical learning abilities.
Councilor Flaherty’s own efforts to close the academic and opportunity gaps include efforts to implement Year 13 in the Boston Public School system. Councilor Flaherty proposes Year 13 to be designed as an intensive, year-long focused program which will provide an extra year of high school, allowing for transition into post-secondary educational, and getting students on track to not only four-year colleges, but also for students entering vocational-technical school, or community college as well.
“By acknowledging that we are under-performing in some areas, we should be doing more to help all of our students to be on the path to success. Namely, in our students' abilities to not only graduate, but to make sure that they are college-ready and career-ready coupled with our educators being provided with the tools to enable a productive classroom,” stated Councilor Flaherty.