School systems have been grappling with inadequate funding for years.
Educators and labor leaders have said that governor Charlie Baker’s level of federal funding for education in his proposed state budget is not enough. In particular, they have pointed to the Student Opportunity Act, passed in 2019 to allocate more state funding over seven years to school systems with many low-income students and English-language learners. The first year of the act was delayed by the Baker administration because of the coronavirus.
Members of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) like Sondra Longo, a high school English teacher for Lawrence Public Schools, are speaking out about how many low-income districts have been dealing with the shortcomings of their budget for a long time. Longo said that the state should fully fund the first two years in 2022 and emphasized that there is no time to catch up. Students will need a lot of support after more than a year of online learning.
“We’re gonna have to personalize the education because everyone’s been through the same trauma, but they’ve been through it in a different way,” said Longo. “So I feel like the resources to do that, they’re absolutely essential.”
Meanwhile, president Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan would bring in federal dollars, if passed, and could help fund the Student Opportunity Act. Groups such as AFT are calling for swift passage of the relief package.
Shira Laucharoen is a reporter based in Boston. She currently serves as the assistant director of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. In the past she has written for Sampan newspaper, The Somerville Times, Scout Magazine, Boston Magazine, and WBUR.