April 29, 2004
More Billions for Massachusetts Public Schools

Some Massachusetts citizens remember the lawsuits in the early 90s that led to the "Education Reform Act of 1993" which massively restructured Massachusetts schools at a cost of many billions of dollars. Now, the "Council for Fair School Finance," which brought the suits in the early 90s, has won another case in Massachusetts. Just like last time, this suit should result in new billions of taxpayer dollars for public schools.

The case, Hancock v. Driscoll, was decided by Judge Margot Botsford, of the Suffolk Superior Court. Her ruling, which must be reviewed by the Supreme Judicial Court, would order a number of broad reforms, including preschool for all 3 and 4 year olds, at no cost for those who can't afford it; better teaching and more money for special education students; improved school buildings; and more attention to health, arts, and foreign language instruction.

Judge Botsford's ruling severely criticized the Brockton Junior High Schools. She wrote, "On the 2002 8th grade history MCAS test, 98 percent of the students scored Needs Improvement or Failing, and on the 2003 science MCAS test, 90 percent of the grade A students…had similar scores."

If Massachusetts's highest court upholds Judge Botsford's ruling, the results could dramatically change the way Massachusetts pays for public schools. The state average per child is $8,465. Approximately one million Massachusetts children attend public schools. The new ruling could require Massachusetts to spend up to 50% more for children in urban districts.

Massachusetts has already been increasing its spending on public schools by 12% per year since 1993, for a total of more than $30 billion. Homeschoolers are quick to note that they have been meeting the needs of their children without a penny of help from Massachusetts taxpayers. Unfortunately, it now looks like homeschooling families, who must struggle by on a single income, will also have to shoulder the new burdens of a failing public system.