“Brainpower is our signature economic edge, and failing to invest in that in Massachusetts would be like Texas failing to invest in the oil industry or Iowa failing to invest in corn farms."
- Governor Deval Patrick, Testimony at the Joint Committee on Ways and Means FY14 Budget Hearing, March 2013
Education is Massachusetts’ calling card around the world and central to our competitiveness in the global economy. We invest in education because we believe that it is the single most important investment government can make in our collective future.
Governor Patrick continues to fund education at the highest levels in our state’s history. The FY13 Budget includes an increase in funding for Chapter 70 K-12 education aid, special education, METCO and programs focused on intervention, MCAS, youth at risk and school specific support. Through funding and a targeted focus, we will work to ensure that all students reach their potential. Through the Administration’s historic 10-year Higher Education Bond Bill , Massachusetts has invested $2.2 billion in state colleges and universities to give all families access to affordable, world class higher education.
Thanks to our record of student achievement, Massachusetts has received $250 million from the Obama Administration through the national Race to the Top competition and an additional $50 million through the President's Early Learning Challenge . These awards are bolstering our efforts to increase educator effectiveness, turn around underperforming schools and provide teachers with the tools they need to ensure that all students are prepared for success in the classroom and beyond.
Closing the Achievement Gap
While our students lead the nation in student achievement, we still have an achievement gap to close. Less than half of low income students are proficient in reading in grade 3 and less than a quarter are proficient in science at grade 8.
The Gateway Cities Education Agenda builds upon the Achievement Gap Act of 2010 by aiming to eliminate the deep and persistent achievement gaps that disproportionately affect children living in poverty, students of color, students with disabilities and students who are English language learners. The FY13 budget maintains funding for these programs in Gateway Cities that focus on career success and English language learning.
Putting Community Colleges at the Center of our Job Creation Strategy
There are 233,000 people still looking for work in Massachusetts – and over 150,000 job openings. The #1 issue for regional employers is the “skills gap” that leaves middle-skilled jobs unfilled. Massachusetts community colleges are uniquely positioned to help close our skills gap and get people back to work.
Signed by Governor Patrick in July 2012, the FY13 budget adopts the Governor's proposal to create a more unified, coordinated community college system . The reforms will enable students to transfer their credits more easily and local campuses to be more responsive to the needs of local economies as well as of the state’s fastest growing sectors. Adopted in the budget the Governor signed are the additional reforms:
- Stronger connections between the Department of Higher Education and leadership of the community colleges;
- Stronger connection and accountability between community colleges and vocational/technical schools; and
- Increased oversight and integration of workforce development initiatives at the regional level.
In addition, the budget provides $5 million in Performance Incentive Grants dedicated for community colleges and $2.25 million to fund “Rapid Response Grants” which will allow community colleges and potential employers to develop career specific curriculum based on the needs of the employer.