"All It Took Was a Look at the Playground"

The following testimony was delivered to the Joint Committee on Education on Friday, March 22, 2019.

We are writing in support of the Promise Act. As retired special educators who also consulted with districts and families, we strongly support an end to the tiered educational system that exists in Massachusetts.

During five years of consulting to and in approximately 60 school districts, we found that all it took was a look at the playground to know what the educational quality would exist inside the school. Districts with fewer funds consistently needed to serve a wider range of student needs: for instance, higher rates of poverty and larger numbers of immigrants, which results in a greater number of traumatized students and a greater number of languages spoken. These districts are footing the bill for higher-income cities and towns that are unaffordable to immigrants and low income families. A culture of “not in my backyard“ has resulted in increasingly large educational gaps between the haves and have not‘s in Massachusetts.

The affluent cities and towns in our state, such as Needham, are able to raise additional funds through the educational foundation’s that have developed. This private funding is able to enrich the curriculum, provide playgrounds, and add back non-mandated services that may be lost by any reductions in state funds.

It is critical that more affluent communities acknowledge the burden taken on by other cities and towns that allow them more privilege and educational quality. It is time to level the playing field.

Thank you for consideration of our views.

Robert Vecchi, M.Ed.
Andrea Wizer, M.Ed.

Needham, MA

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