Our Worcester Legislative Delegation Failing the Worcester Public Schools
By Gordon Davis
Several decades ago Massachusetts Public School Systems were seen as one of the fundamental element of our prosperity and well being. Although it still is today a basis for our quality of life, Public Schools are not held in the same esteem as then.
There are those who outright want to destroy the best Public School systems in the nation by changing over to charter schools. Governor Charlie Baker fits this characterization. There are those who do not care and see the Public School systems as a financial burden. Then there are those who desire good Public Schools, but do nothing as the schools are being undefended and left to deteriorate.
To some extent the Worcester legislative delegation is the latter.
I suppose it is not much different that other cities in Massachusetts have Public Schools that are becoming majority minority or majority children of color.
State representatives Mary Keefe and John Mahoney have made statements in support of fully funded Public Schools.
Rep. Keefe raised the idea of a coalition of “gateway cities.”
This is needed. I hope she is working on effectuating the coalition. They should get credit for their statements.
Chapter 70 of Mass. Gen. Laws was passed to ensure that the poorer communities have good public schools. The basis for the statute is that schools dependent on property taxes in poorer communities would have less money than the more affluent towns where property values and taxes are higher.
Although the law obliges the State to fully fund Public Schools in accordance with the Foundation Formula found in Chap. 70, the politicians always seem to find a way to shortchange Worcester and other cities that are transitioning to a majority children of color schools. This is an outrage and could possible lead to the situation seen in Detroit and Philadelphia where underfunding precipitated inadequate education.
If Worcester was fully funded by the State as is required by Chapter 70 the Worcester Public School System would receive an ADDITIONAL $92 million per year.
For fiscal 2017 the Worcester Public School System is facing a $22 million deficit. The $92 million owed to the City’s schools would cover the deficit and have money to reduce class sizes and improve opportunities.
In Worcester about $3 million from taxes go into our Public Schools. This amount is rumored to be scheduled to be reduced by between one and two million dollars. For the more affluent towns relative much more money per capital is allocated to their schools. These towns can do this as their property values and taxes are higher than Worcester.
Several groups are raising the issue, including CPPAX, Jobs Not Jail, Mass. Human Rights, and others.
It is time the Worcester legislative delegates spoke out more forcibly for fully funded schools.
It is time the delegation tell us in detail how it intends to get full funding for Worcester children.
The issue of education of our children is too important to let the people representing us to just make a few platitudes and do nothing.
The platitude of “working behind the scene to effectuate change” is no longer credible.