Our Governor has recently made some very public pronouncements on coming reform to education funding. At a meeting of the Mass Association of School Committees and a public rally on the Boston Common, he committed to reforming the process.
The folks over at Blue Mass Group have been paying attention:
Gov. Patrick’s gonna have to get new shirts, ’cause he’s got something big up his sleeve when it comes to education funding. It’s funny — when I was talking with Sen. Jehlen last week I mentioned that Patrick was making noises about a major shift in funding, presumably requiring more revenue. She shrugged — she had no more idea what he was actually proposing than anyone of us. So it’s still a tantalizing mystery … Perhaps we might see a tax hike with the money going to a dedicated education fund — a “lock box”, if you will.
That’s all well and good, but the problem of education funding is devilishly complex. A incremental difference in assumptions between the Governor’s budget and the House Ways and Means budget (in mind-numbing detail here), resulted in a day of debate and a $20 million difference in funding levels. If that’s what $20 million gets you, then imagine what broad-based reform of $4 billion+ in education aid will cause.
And it’s not entirely clear who is doing the deep thinking here. The Senator Jehlen reference above suggests it’s not the Senate. The foodfight over $20m suggests it’s not the House. And the leader of the Governor’s education task force, Paul Reville, does not seem to have the answer either:
None of [the Governor’s education task force’s brainstorming on education finance] coalesced around a particular set of arrangements or proposals, nor did the governor or the governor’s staff submit to us anything that indicated the direction [the Governor would like to go in]
So, we’ve got an interesting confluence of events — the Governor has repeatedly pegged himself to the ambitious task of solving this problem and none of the other players seem to have a clue where he’s headed. We offer our best wishes for his success in this endeavor. If he can fix what some many others have failed to do, he’ll have accomplished an amazing feat. We’ll be watching with great curiosity.