Addressing education inequity requires aligning state aid to community need (Letters)

It was unfortunate to see inaccuracies in a recent article quoting Amherst town budget chief Sean Mangano about our research on equity in state education aid, “School funding report draws town’s criticism,” Oct. 8, page A10. As a regional chamber of commerce and a statewide education advocacy organization, we believe that growing inequality and economic uncertainty necessitates a statewide approach steeped in equity.

Our report shows that 14% of state Chapter 70 aid for schools (almost $800 million a year) is not based on community need. This aid goes predominantly to wealthier communities at the expense of students in less wealthy districts where the state has not fully met its responsibility to fill funding gaps. The Amherst and Amherst-Pelham school districts receive 1 percent or about $7.8 million of that total.

The recommendations in our report redirect $25 million of statewide non-needs-based aid toward communities that need it the most.

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Special education during COVID-19 requires close contact behind plexiglass and masks

Anne Boucher read an illustrated children’s book about an ant to two of her students at Brewer Community School on Friday morning. The students sat across from her, separated from their teacher by plexiglass. All three wore masks, and Boucher also wore a plastic face shield.

As she read the book, Boucher held it up behind the plexiglass so the students could describe the images, and she asked them how they felt about what they were hearing. One student alternately fidgeted with a small, black-and-white cow and large, squishy T-Rex.

“This one is just to get them talking about things that they are working on,” Boucher said of the exercise.

As a radically different school year gets underway, requirements that teachers keep their distance from students, and that students keep their distance from each other, can pose a challenge with special education, which often requires teachers and students to be

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America’s Founders Knew Democracy Requires Public Education

Even before the United States had a Constitution, its founders were advocating for the creation of public education systems. The United States was an experiment in democracy unlike anything the world had ever seen, turning away from government dominated by elites and hoping that the common man could rule himself. If this experiment had any chance of standing the test of time, the nation needed far more schools to prepare everyday citizens for self-government. As James Madison, the father of our Constitution, remarked: “a popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy.” Thomas Jefferson similarly argued that governments “deriv[e] their just powers from the consent of the governed,” but that it is education that makes that consent possible. President Washington, in his last annual message to Congress, added that expanding education was essential to the perpetuation

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