A host of schools in BPS suffer from underfunding and it has become evident. Walking into schools, one sees broken lockers, cracked chairs, graffitied desks and little to no hallway space. Other schools may have physical defects that are not as visible, such as non-functioning intercoms or a lack of adequate teachers and nurses. Without these essential resources, BPS students don’t have the same opportunities as students in suburban school districts that are located just a few miles from Boston.
The Foundation Budget that dictates how much money is allocated to districts across the state is 25 years old, but legislators have been unable to agree on a bill to update it. There are three proposals: The governor’s bill, The House bill introduced by Rep. Paul Tucker, and the Senate’s Education PROMISE Act, introduced by Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz. The latter is the only legislation proposed that would support young people and their immediate needs, and it should be passed and implemented immediately.
Youth-led organizations support the PROMISE Act in part because it’s the only proposal that includes all of the Foundation Budget Review Commission recommendations. The commission was tasked with recommending budget updates that would provide students with more equitable resources. It called for increased supports for low-income students, English Language Learners and special education programs, along with improvements to teacher healthcare.
The PROMISE Act also includes a District Student Aid increment that would close the gap between current budgets and a new-and-improved foundation budget in each district, along with mandating a regulated amount of funding for all Massachusetts districts. The successful implementation of this bill would increase opportunities by providing students with better supplies and resources, new sports teams, more extracurriculars and more comprehensive and robust course options. This would ultimately result in happier and more successful students, competent and satisfied teachers, and a healthier school climate.
Underfunding has a strong negative impact on students. Many believe that this is the best education we can receive because it’s all we have been exposed to and provided with, but it is not sufficient and we can have better. Students can and should stand up and speak up for policies like the PROMISE Act that would benefit us. If students want to see improvements to school funding, they can also vote and visit local legislators at the State House. It is the house of the people and students should take advantage of that.
Students have to fight for what they deserve because it’s the only way to get what we are owed. The PROMISE Act would be a step in the right direction.