Whether or not you agree with the revenue proposals in Governor Patrick’s FY14 state budget, business leaders can support the priority given to improving education from pre-K through higher ed. A high quality education system is an engine of economic growth. In his arguments for new education revenue and spending, the governor rightly reminds us that Massachusetts is not on pace to sufficiently prepare all students for the jobs that exist now or those that will be created in the coming years. Getting us on track will require hard choices and firm commitment over the long haul. The financial constraints confronted by the state, by schools and by families require us to consider new approaches to how we fund and operate our schools and educate our students.
Our first school finance challenge is to determine whether the significant investment taxpayers already make in education is being used effectively and to ensure that spending decisions are based on strong evidence of what is working – not simply what we’ve been doing in the past. That’s why MBAE supports the establishment of a Foundation Budget Review Commission (a provision of the Education Reform Act of 1993) as proposed by Joint Committee on Education Co-Chairs Rep. Alice Peisch and Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz and Rep. Jason Lewis.
The persistent challenges we face, however, cannot be solved by money alone. Great teachers and school leaders are the key to improving student outcomes. We must transform our teacher preparation programs, evaluation and compensation systems to ensure the best and brightest are in every classroom across the state. In addition, the digital revolution which has transformed many other industries is now at the door of education. How to use technology to support teachers, improve student outcomes, and leverage shrinking budgets is a key question for policy makers and educators today.
We are not convinced that money is the problem – or the solution – when it comes to closing achievement gaps and graduating every student ready for their future. But, we are committed to finding out. The business community has great expertise in these matters and we need your help to identify the most effective and efficient ways to utilize education resources to reach these goals. We’re glad that the governor has issued the call to focus on this discussion and urge you to join MBAE in being part of the conversation. Contact us to get involved!
For analysis of the FY14 Budget from two of MBAE’s partner business organizations, read the statement from Associated Industries of Massachusetts and information from the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.
You can also find information about the education section of the budget proposal in the Massachusetts Budget & Policy Center’s Budget Monitor.