The Massachusetts Legislature yesterday approved a $1.5 billion education-funding bill that includes measures supported by the business community allowing the state to hold school districts accountable for how they spend the money.
The bill, which now heads to Governor Charlie Baker for his consideration, will align community needs with goals and outcome-based measurements, creating an education system that is responsive to the demands of the future workforce. AIM has long insisted that preparing students for college and the workforce remain a vital component of the education-funding discussion.
“By requiring school districts to consider how they might best prepare students for both college and careers, and by collecting and reporting on important data metrics, the conference committee report strengthens our ability as a commonwealth to support students as they choose from diverse opportunities after high school,” AIM President and Chief Executive Officer John Regan wrote in a letter to lawmakers this morning.
“Our efforts to enhance students’ economic opportunities should not end at graduation. There is still much important work to be done to close racial and socio-economic achievement gaps and bring more career-connected learning to Massachusetts schools. Employers across the commonwealth are proud to be part of this continued effort and discussion.”
The final version of the bill emerged this week from a House-Senate conference committee. The House passed a version in October that included strong accountability measures, but the Senate version omitted some of those measures.
Education matters to Massachusetts employers because the commonwealth’s highly regarded schools provide a competitive advantage over other states and countries. AIM’s member companies, however, have become increasingly concerned that Massachusetts students are graduating from high school without the knowledge and skills they need to enter the workforce or to succeed in college.
At the same time, businesses report a persistent shortage of qualified candidates to fill open jobs, many of which pay high wages in growing industries. The skills shortage appears to be impeding economic growth and expansion - the state economy contracted modestly during the third quarter because of workforce capacity limits.
AIM applauds the House and a Senate for their passage and urges Governor Baker to sign the education funding bill.