Mayors: Schools failing to meet constitutional requirement to provide adequate education opportunities
BOSTON— Testifying today at the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Education’s hearing on funding legislation, the mayors of Brockton, New Bedford and Worcester explained that they are not close to being able to meet the constitutionally required standard of providing all students with adequate education opportunities.
Referencing the Foundation Budget Review Commission’s findings, the Mayors explained that not only are they unable to meet the adequacy standard defined by the Foundation Budget in the 1993 Massachusetts Education Reform Act but given the significant changes in the economy and the resulting expectations for schools they are far from meeting any kind of an adequacy standard for 2019.
“The student achievement gaps in our state are significant and widening, and the fault lines are geographic,” said New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell. “The cities of Massachusetts, especially the urban centers outside of Greater Boston, are home to a disproportionate share of the state’s high needs students, and struggle to find the resources necessary to provide these students with the education they deserve. The state needs to fill that void.”
The mayors cited the Supreme Judicial Court’s explanation that an adequately educated child must have “sufficient oral and written communication skills to function in a complex and rapidly changing” society, sufficient “academic or vocational skills” to compete in the job market, and “sufficient understanding of governmental processes to” be civically involved.
“Our public school system is what creates a level playing field of opportunity for all students growing up in the Commonwealth. Today that is no longer the case,” said Mayor Bill Carpenter of Brockton. “The disparity in resources available to students growing up in Gateway cities versus their counterparts in the more affluent suburbs is not only unfair but it is unconstitutional.”
Worcester Mayor Joseph M. Petty expressed his “gratitude to the Governor and Legislative leaders in both branches for their commitment to addressing the funding issues related to this intolerable and unconstitutional situation this spring,” stating that it is again time for significant change. “We need real change, not incremental change at the glacial pace of government but real change now,” said Mayor Petty. “The success of future generations simply cannot wait.”
The Mayors were joined by a panel of their Superintendents, who explained in greater detail the issues that Gateway Cities have to confront. The superintendents referenced the significantly changed demographics in their communities, the transitory nature of many of their students, the significant public health and homelessness issues they are confronting and materially different education needs of their students.
Nick Giaquinto | Office of Mayor Bill Carpenter
City of Brockton
508.580.7123 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Jon Carvalho | Office of Mayor Jon Mitchell
City of New Bedford
508.979.1410 | email@example.com
Daniel Racicot | Office of Mayor Joseph M. Petty
City of Worcester
508.631.7110 | firstname.lastname@example.org