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Joseph A. O'Sullivan Testimony
In Support of Continued Education Funding
Testimony in support of continued education funding by Joseph A. O'Sullivan
Date: March 10, 2003, Bridgewater State College
With apologies to our neighbors in Fall River: "Mitt Romney took an ax and gave school budgets 40 whacks and when he saw what he had done he gave local community budgets 41!"
The Romney budget is an undisguised attack on the foundations of our democracy. The quality of life that each and every Massachusetts citizen enjoys today is a direct result of Massachusetts' outstanding Pre K-12 and affordable higher education system and the legacy that Massachusetts's citizens fought for and won the right to bargain over wages hours and working conditions. The outside sections of the budget decimate both sources of our citizens' success. Please stop the privatization and defunding of higher education, and PROTECT THE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING RIGHTS the Governor wants to eliminate.
If implemented Romney's plan will eventually silence the voices of the public and leave no millionaire behind!
Re: The Budget-Brockton's Mayor Yunits (Chairman of the School Committee) spoke last week of many possible impacts of the approximately $6,000,000 cut to our public schools. Fundamental things like the fact that eliminating bus transportation for students would cause a compounded expense to the City for the purchase of several more sidewalk plows for the safety students who will now have to walk. Additionally, clearly, successful and desperately needed programs like early childhood education, extended day kindergarten, primary class size reduction, and a full time school nurse in every building will be curtailed or eliminated.
As the lead plaintiff in Webby vs. Dukakis, McDuffy vs. Robertson, and now Hancock, I'm here to tell you that our Brockton school system has made tremendous progress under education reform and the foundation budget formula.
Historically, from 1981-1984 we lost 300 classroom teachers & 250 support staff; then again in 1990-1991 we lost 200 classroom teachers, and again had class sizes of 45 in our elementaries. (Tragically, these same students now will be the first victims of high stakes MCAS.)
Currently our student population is over 17,000. Our system needs increased funding to expand our alternate programs, address staggering class sizes where they exist, eliminate our 21 leased modular classrooms, and 2 leased school buildings, get classes off of our stages and out of the auditoriums, recapture art and music rooms for their intended purposes, and continue to upgrade our technology. Meanwhile we need to continue the struggle to get air into our classrooms instead of water in our six still operational 100-year old school buildings.
I've spent 46 years in the Brockton Public Schools, as a student, as a teacher, and as a teacher association president. I've taught science classes of 39 students in a room designed for 24, I've watched children's lives destroyed by tax cuts and funding shortages in this state and my community.
Please continue our progress; continue to support adequate funding for PUBLIC SCHOOLS.
Suggested revenue sources:
1. Support a sunsetted increase in state tax, which could have a built in indexing to growth rollback component. Gov. Cellucci promised people that the tax cut would not impact local aid and schools!) NOT TRUE!
2. Stop the creation of more parasitic Commonwealth Charter schools. They have drained over $150,000,000 from real public schools and it in unconscionable that the Mass. BOE granted 5 new charters two weeks ago while the budgets of real PUBLIC schools were hemorrhaging for funds.
3. Elimination of MCAS and MCAS retesting, and associated MCAS remediation programs would net well over $100,000,000/year and save the legal costs of defending MCAS. You see, it is now clear that the resources for all the new education reform and changed framework mandates were never considered in the original funding formula... which was therefore insufficient form the start.
4. Fund students in parasitic Commonwealth Charter Schools at the same per pupil cost as real public school students. This would create more Chapter 70 funding for all real public schools and have no effect on Horace Mann Charter Schools, because that's what they get now.