Education Platform

K-12 Education
Public schools are the foundation of a more equitable, more engaged, and more compassionate society. That’s why we need to end high-stakes testing, focus on the whole child, empower educators, invest in our public schools, and support every child, regardless of their background or ability.

The Challenge
Year after year Beacon Hill claims to make “record-breaking” investments in public education. But between FY2010 and today, funding for Chapter 70, the state’s biggest program funding local schools, has gone up only 3% when adjusted for inflation, even as public school costs have increased due to growing student needs, health insurance costs, charter school growth, and more. Regional school transportation funding, which affects many Western Massachusetts communities, is down more than 10% in the last ten years. The state has failed to meet its obligation to reimburse public schools for money lost to charter schools, and most school districts receive roughly half the funding owed them under the state charter law.

The list of budget problems facing Massachusetts school districts goes on and on. But one of the biggest challenges is this: the Chapter 70 formula that determines state aid for public schools, first written in 1993, underestimates the cost of an adequate public education by $1 to $2 billion annually. That’s an enormous sum of money missing from a $4.9 billion program, and its absence robs students and families of the public education they deserve. If elected, I will support legislation that updates the Chapter 70 formula, and will prioritize funding for regional school transportation and other education line items in the state budget.

Public education is designed to serve all students, but our system doesn’t serve all students equally. Students of color, students with disabilities, low-income students, and English learners experience higher suspension rates and lower graduation rates than their peers. This trend continues on for just about every available metric. I support policies that address these inequities head on, and that improve educational opportunities for all students.

I oppose the expansion of charter schools, and support significant changes to the laws that currently govern them. Charter schools are established by the state board of education, but they take local dollars away from local public schools without any say from the community. They are not subject to the same regulations or reporting requirements as public schools, keeping key information out of the public eye. I support legislation requiring local approval of charter schools, and support holding charter schools to the same standards as public schools.

The vast majority of charter schools are non-union, leading to high teacher turnover, lower teacher pay, less-experienced educators, and less advocacy by teachers on behalf of their students. I strongly support the rights of all teachers, in all schools, to organize and to collectively bargain.

Our teachers have endured major changes to our education system since 2010, when the state began implementing policies designed to corporatize our public schools. These policies force schools to spend more time on standardized testing by linking teacher evaluations to state test scores, even though standardized test scores are a better indicator of a student’s family wealth than of the quality of the educator. This doesn’t just hurt teachers - it costs students valuable time spent learning. Many students - most with special needs - are prevented from graduating, after completing all other requisite graduation requirements, because of their scores on the MCAS. I oppose linking teacher evaluations to state standardized test scores, and I oppose denying students a high school diploma based on state-administered exams.

A Progressive Vision
When public education is under attack, it is vital that we stand up and vocally oppose privatization policies that hurt our students. As progressives, though, it is equally important that we articulate our own positive vision for public education.

As a progressive candidate for State Senate, I support:
  • Fully funding full-day kindergarten and universal pre-K so that every child can succeed.
  • Including social and emotional learning throughout the curriculum, so that every student learns to think critically, act kindly, and understand their role in society while also mastering academics.
  • Improving state funding for special education and school transportation so that school districts can focus on meeting the needs of all students.
  • Requiring that every student grades K-5 receives no less than 20 consecutive minutes of recess.Promoting civics and financial literacy classes as a regular part of a high school education.
  • Ending the school-to-prison pipeline by supporting policies (like PBIS) that approach student behavioral issues with support and compassion.
  • Redirecting funding currently spent on standardized tests to the Massachusetts Consortium for Innovation Education Assessment (MCIEA), which works with school districts to build better assessment options that are not punitive, and provide communities with useful information about real learning goals.
  • Comprehensive, medically-accurate, age-appropriate and LGBTQ inclusive sexual health education, so that every student has access to the information they need to make informed, respectful and consensual decisions as they grow.
  • Greater flexibility for educators and school districts in meeting the diverse needs of students who are learning English.
  • Restoring collective bargaining rights to school department employees in districts under state receivership.
  • Investing resources in communities that are struggling and encouraging collaboration between educators, families and policymakers, rather than allowing state takeovers of low-income public schools with no local control from voters or elected officials.
  • An education system that fosters curiosity, imagination, and a love of learning through project-based learning in a broad range of educational subjects including science, technology, engineering, math, the arts and the humanities.
  • Funding Adult Basic Education (ABE) programs that help adults earn their high school diploma.
  • The Fair Share Amendment, which will raise much-needed revenue for public schools and other public needs by instituting a 4% surtax on annual incomes over $1 million.

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