Today’s public schools are bursting with innovative approaches to teaching and learning. Whether it is researched based language arts classes, hands on base-ten mathematics, experiments in science, the analysis of social patterns and history, computer technologies, robotics, visual and performing arts, music arts, or vocational technical studies, the students of today are being prepared for the work of tomorrow. It’s quite amazing the progress that has been achieved. Yet, there are a few things I find troubling.
Testing. Specifically, the mandated tests which demand teachers teach for the tests and not to the best interest of the student. What are we testing? What does the test show us? Is the outcome of data worth the money spent? Is it worth the time it takes or worth the stress to our students? We of course need a standard measurement for our students, but let's take time to do our homework. We should not be handcuffing our teachers to a curriculum and students to a singular focus whose sole goal is passing a set of tests. Let’s give teachers the freedom to teach and students a comprehensive educational experience.
We can do better with funding our public schools. Towns often struggle to meet financial mandates from the state and federal government. The Commonwealth simply must do more to ensure communities can meet their obligation. Thankfully, the first step has already been taken. Recently, state legislators passed the Student Opportunity Act; a much-needed funding mechanism that will ensure all students in Massachusetts access to equal education no matter what their community can afford.
Make no mistake, the Student Opportunity Act is just the beginning of the steps that need to be taken. This doesn’t mean raising taxes blindly. It means we it’s time we say what I often have in my years of public service: "We need a new approach." We must ensure that we follow through with sustainable funding!
Lastly, let’s talk about higher education. I’ve talked a lot about ensuring that the next generation can find jobs here in the district. That they can find affordable housing here. That they can stay here and raise their families. The first step is ensuring that our public institutions of higher education are affordable. I want the next generation to be able to work here and live here, and I want them to learn here, too.
The Commonwealth is number one in the country in terms of the educational growth of our students. Our students go on to some of the best colleges and trade schools in the world, and many of those schools are right here in Massachusetts. And many are public institutions. What we need to do is ensure the cost remains affordable. We can start by stopping the skyrocketing increases in rates of tuition and fees, adding more funding to the schools, and hiring full time and tenured faculty. Affordable higher education is the backbone of our economy.
We all have a vested interest in ensuring the education we provide is comprehensive, inclusive, and second to none. As your State Senator, I will work tirelessly only the best in education for the Commonwealth.