One of the most effective ways to make an impact as a School Committee member is through advocacy. State and federal officials are often very interested in hearing from those most familiar with the impacts of their policy choices, and our state legislators are especially receptive to School Committee members. Many of them were School Committee members themselves, or have served in another municipal government role where they gained an understanding of the work SCs do. Organizations like the Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC) have strived to unite committee members across the state to amplify their advocacy for solutions that work for public schools. It was in my role as vice-chair of MASC's Urban Division that I was invited to provide my testimony at the State House on Tuesday at a meeting of the Joint Committee on Education, chaired by Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz and Rep. Alice Peisch.
The purpose of my testimony was to explain how New Bedford is impacted by a flawed system the state uses to distribute education funding. In 2015, the Foundation Budget Review Commission released a report that estimated the state is underfunding education by 1-2 billion dollars. While this gap is spread throughout the Commonwealth, the impacts of underfunding are especially drastic in communities like New Bedford and other similar cities, where gaps in funding are not easily made up by the local tax base. Our School Committee has been wise to make investments and provide resources whenever possible, but our schools are still very much underresourced. If Sen. Chang-Diaz's bill, S. 223, passes, the state would begin planning to implement the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission, and in time New Bedford would receive the resources our students need and deserve. The Boston Herald has an article on the hearing here.
Check out my full written testimony to the Joint Committee below (or here), and help out by contacting your local legislators to advocate for the implementation of the Foundation Budget Review Commission's recommendations.
As I said on Tuesday, New Bedford's students can't afford to wait.