Due to the special election that will be held statewide on April 30, and the use of the Great Hall at the State House as a polling site on that day, MASC has cancelled its scheduled April 30 DAY ON THE HILL and will instead host a LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY DAY at the State House on Tuesday, May 21.
Over-regulated and under-funded? Bring the message to your legislators at LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY DAY
Regulations. mandates. more Regulations. Testing Requirementsfor Students and Educators. New Demands for Services. Increased Accountability. Race to the Top dollars go away and Sequestration cuts become a reality. Does this sound familiar, and if so, are you coping (or just barely)?
The good news is that despite the regulatory and testing overload and an economy that is only tiptoeing toward recovery, Massachusetts students continue to outperform not only the rest of the nation but nearly all other countries as well on the most recent NEAP and TIMSS (international science and math assessment) tests. Many of the state’s public schools continue to make significant measurable progress toward closing the achievement gap, and districts are well on their way to implementing the new educator evaluation requirements. In late January, Governor Patrick presented his FY14 budget that would increase Chapter 70 by $226 million andprovide more than $100 million in new funding for early education and care.
Nevertheless many accounts still remain under- or barely level-funded: proposed increases to the out-of-district special education account will nnot cover the spiraling cost of special education placements for many districts; regional transportation, though increased, remains at less than 60% of the full funding required by statute; and charter schools—which are accountable to noone—continue to siphon badly needed dollars away from many of the state’s most vulnerable districts. In addition, districts are being challenged by a record number of new mandates (health, nutrition, concussion prevention, background checks and the new educator evaluation requirements that have significant ramifications for collective bargaining) that will require costly new processes to be implemented.
Additional challenges include the ongoing struggle to educate and assist a growing transient population as well as the upcoming Common Core standards curriculum and PARCC assessments, and the assaults on local control and democratically elected school leadership.
For budget and regulation-weary school leaders, the solution begins with you and your colleagues. Never before has it been as imperative to remind legislators of the critical need to relax the mandates on educators and provide sustainable resources to districts. If schools area to meet the challenges of educating all children to a 21st century standard in an era of increasingly fierce global competition, schools will need to support and grow student learning opportunities. These and other issues (see “Legislative Priorities”) will be the basis for MASC’s revamped Legislative Advocacy Day, May 21. Members are encouraged to bring the message to Beacon Hill that real achievement can only be accomplished with real dollars. In particular, Members are urged to make appointments with their legislators for May 21 and follow through with discussions on the future of education funding in an era of high expectations; the need to support and strengthen services for mobile and other challenged students through improved interagency collaboration; a renewed call for legislative commitment to comprehensive school funding; and relief from excessive regulation.
The importance of school committee members advocating directly with their legislators cannot be overstated, according to MASC President Mary Jo Rossetti. Legislators are exposed to dozens of different areas of public policy at any given time, all of which require a level of highly specialized knowledge. “Legislators need your help if they are to clearly understand the challenges school leaders face as well as your budgetary and policy priorities. Our 2200 school committee members represent the state’s largest body of elected officials. Our collective influence potential to offer solutions and advance action for student achievement is enormous.
There has never been a better—or more critical—time to advocate for our issues and impress upon legislators the urgency of implementing the fiscal and regulatory reforms that will move districts forward and ensure long-term sustainability. It is up to us to demonstrate leadership through advocacy and the May 21 date is especially critical as the Senate begins debating the budget on or around that time.”
Registration information is being mailed to all members and you can also register online. The format for the day is informal and there is no charge to attend.
The MASC Board of Directors and staff will welcome attendees in Nurses Hall with coffee and supplemental materials, including copies of position papers on key issues for members to share with their legislators.
We do ask that you and your student representative register in order that sufficient materials are available for you to distribute and bring back to your district.