REJA celebrates the passage of Student Opportunity Act

For the past year teachers and school advocates in Revere, like the Revere Education Justice Alliance (REJA), actively lobbied the state legislature and governor to begin taking steps to overhaul the state’s education funding formula to ensure equity for all students, especially those in low-income areas.
Because the state has not updated its education funding formula since 1993 to reflect districts’ real health insurance and special education costs, the amount of aid being provided to cover those costs is too small.
Last month Governor Charlie Baker signed S. 2412, An Act Relative to Educational Opportunity for Students, or Student Opportunity Act (SOA), which boosts investment in public schools by $1.5 billion annually when fully phased in over the next seven years.
To celebrate the passage of this historic education reform bill REJA hosted a special celebration last Wednesday. Revere stakeholders – including youth, parents, teachers, and community – were invited to discuss their hopes for empowering future students in the Revere Public School system. Many in the room had participated in the Fund our Future campaign, which had been staunchly advocating for this funding.
After dealing with years of underfunding from the state, the group was excited to finally discuss their hopes with additional revenue in sight.
For more than two decades many districts like Revere were being forced to use money that would otherwise support core education programs—including Regular Ed. Teachers, Materials & Technology, and Professional Development to compensate for budget shortfalls.
The problem for low income school districts is there is a growing equity gap between schools in Revere and schools in more affluent areas of the state. When faced with such shortfalls, high-wealth districts can often draw on additional, local revenue. Lower-wealth districts, however, are generally unable to do so and the consequence is that they spend less on resources that are critically important to the quality of education students receive.
Over 40 people attended last Wednesday’s REJA event to learn about the new bill, which guarantees millions of dollars in additional funding for the Revere Public Schools focused on supporting students from historically disadvantaged backgrounds.
While the Massachusetts Teachers Association had predicted over 16 million dollars in additional funding for next school year, Governor Baker’s budget sets Revere’s increase closer to 11 million.
“While it’s less than we expected, we are still enthusiastic about the increase,” said Erik Fearing, the president of the Revere Teachers Association (RTA). “We’re grateful for the work of all our members and allies, including our elected state delegation Senator Boncore, Rep. Vincent, and Speaker DeLeo, for their active roles in securing this funding.”
Revere Public Schools have also begun their public input process.
The SOA mandates that districts submit plans on how their new funds will be used, Revere Schools is hosting an event at the High School on Feb. 4 to hear community input.
REJA and Revere School Superintendent Dianne Kelly encouraged all community members to attend.
“As many of you know, the Student Opportunity Act has positioned Revere to be funded at a level where we can actually discuss our priorities and goals within the context of financial resources,” said Kelly. “This is the first time in my tenure that such a conversation has been possible and I’m really excited to hear from all of you as well as the parents and community members who will also be part of this meeting. All are welcomed – I’ll especially emphasize this to our colleagues who are not teachers or administrators – your voices are equally important.”
Kelly said people can register for the event by going to Kelly explained this is so that Revere Schools can get a sense of who is in attendance and how many people plan to come.
“We look forward to the district’s first community event,” said Sandy Wright of Revere Youth in Action (RYiA). “We were encouraged by the city’s master planning process. It was a great model for integrating ongoing community input into determining city priorities. We’re excited for the chance to collaborate with the district to align community’s members needs with its decision makers’ actions.”
Many at last week’s celebration were parents who want to support their childrens’ education. Women Encouraging Empowerment (WEE) supports that work through parent organizers and their work.
“As an organization serving immigrant people, we want them to thrive and adapt in the best possible way,” said WEE Director Olga Tacure. “We want them to be a part of their kids’ education and engage with the community where they live. The new funds, together with the family engagement policy, will help parents be more invested in their children’s education. It is crucial that parents get involved in the process and development of the district improvement plans to make sure the funds are allocated to the services that we know our students need.”
The funds could also be used to improve teaching and learning conditions district-wide.
“What we really need is more support,” said Gina Garro, teacher at Garfield Elementary and Second Vice President of the RTA. “More paraprofessionals in all the kindergarten classes, and more across the city to support hard working educators. We need more available full time translators to support students, teachers, and parents, and more staff who speak different languages and represent different backgrounds.”

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