FairTest Joins MA Coalition to Fund Our Future

FairTest is part of a new Massachusetts coalition with a simple message: It’s time for Governor Charlie Baker and the state legislature to make it their number one priority to reinvest $1.5 billion a year in public education, from pre-K through college, with the funding increase not attached to any additional testing.

Our public education system is a key part of what makes Massachusetts a great place to live and work. But testing overkill, combined with austerity school funding, has undermined our schools and our quality of life.

The campaign is called Fund Our Future, and we expect the coalition to expand rapidly and build political power.

FairTest recognizes the dire need for funding to support education basics like small class size and access to art and music. But it is also critically important to have resources to support the development of authentic and holistic forms of assessment and accountability.

Testing proponents will insist on no funding without strings in the form of more test-based accountability for teachers and schools. But that is based on the mistaken belief that lower test scores in poor districts are the result of educational failures, rather than systemic inequities including (but not limited to) funding shortages.

In addition to FairTest, founding members include American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts, Boston Teachers Union, Citizens for Public Schools, Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance, Massachusetts Jobs With Justice, Massachusetts Teachers Association, NAACP New England Area Conference, and PHENOM (Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts).

Students, parents, educators and civil rights leaders came together to officially launch the campaign on Tuesday, Dec. 18 at the Massachusetts State House.

Lisa Guisbond, a FairTest staff member and Executive Director of Citizens for Public Schools told Masslive, “We’re basically just calling on legislators to keep their promise to cherish our public schools and fund them adequately.”

The 1993 Massachusetts Education Reform Act brought new funding for public schools along with strict test-based accountability measures. But 25 years of testing and punishment has failed to bring equity; on the contrary, our gaps in opportunity and achievement are as large or larger than ever. That’s because the state hasn’t adequately funded our schools, and the state’s test-and-punish approach does more harm than good.

Ricardo Rosa, a New Bedford Public School parent and University of Massachusetts Dartmouth professor, spoke from the heart about what underfunding looks like.

He denounced our state’s underfunded and increasingly separate and unequal school system. “I put this question to our legislators,” Rosa said. “Are some Massachusetts Children more deserving and more valuable than others or are we born equal in dignity and rights?”

Click here to read about more about the launch and the comments of all the speakers.