On Friday, May 3, Latino educators attended a convening to discuss the Massachusetts funding formula and advocate for the issues legislators should consider during the next few months as they work to pass an equitable funding bill. The Massachusetts legislature is reviewing educational funding proposals. The decisions they make this spring about how to allocate education funds, will significantly impact the outcomes and lives of students for years to come.
Latinos for Education with Amplify Latinx, Greater Boston Latino Network and Gaston Institute created a space for the collective Latino voice to be heard on the matter. Legislative leaders Sonia Chang-Diaz, Jason Lewis and Andy Vargas showed up to listen and discuss with 75 Latino educators, leaders and parents from across the state. Lewis and Chang-Diaz explained budget proposals and the funding formula.
“The goal for today is threefold,” said Amanda Fernandez, Executive Director of Latinos for Education, as she opened the convening. She continued: “We need to understand the challenges faced by schools, educate stakeholders about how the funding systems work, and act to secure a funding formula that works for all.”
Both legislators and community members agreed, the students most affected and at highest risk of being further detrimentally under served come from low-income communities, many with high Latino and English Language Learner (ELL) student populations. A poll of participants revealed the top three education matters that matter most to are support for ELL Students (85%), ensuring students are well-prepared for college and beyond (80%), and increasing teacher diversity (73%).
“Who here remembers the 1993 Education Reform?” asked Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz during her presentation to attendees on Friday. “There were some things about the foundation formula that the Commission recognized had started off correct, but had eroded over time and needed to be updated to reflect the realities of our current economy.”
A theme of accountability surfaced during the Q&A. One attendee asked how accountability is written into the budget proposals. Another attendee commented on accountability versus punishment. There was consensus that both stakeholders and legislators must equally commit to accountability. Senator Chang-Diaz, Senator Lewis, and Representative Vargas encouraged attendees to keep the conversation going and to ask tough questions.
The mission of Latinos for Education is to develop, place and connect essential Latino leaders in the education sector. The organization is mobilizing a network of skilled education leaders to ensure the voice of students and families is not only heard but factored into decision-making in schools, communities and education institutions throughout the U.S. Learn more at: www.LatinosforEducation.org.