Education advocates oppose ’empowerment zones’ and instead call for more funding

Boston Statehouse

BOSTON (WWLP) – The governor wants to expand access to ’empowerment zones, but educators say that’s not going to help some of the state’s poorest school districts. 

Governor Charlie Baker proposed House Bill-3632 to expand ’empowerment zones,’ like the one used at most of Springfield’s public schools to better serve low-income students across the state.

‘Empowerment zones’ are designed to help teachers address student issues. But education officials said they won’t be able to do that if the state adds more regulations.  

“We don’t know long term whether this is the ultimate solution and it doesn’t need legislation or law to have it created, what we need is for local schools to be locally controlled which is not part of the legislation,” Maureen Colgan Posner, president of the Springfield Education Association said. 

Empowerment Zone Opponents say it doesn’t address underlying school funding issues, and would ultimately hurt low-income communities. 

“The schools that the department of public educations rates as ‘failing’ are schools that serve disproportionately students of color and immigrant students the real problem is a lack of funding and poverty,” Merrie Najimy, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association said. 

Education advocates are hoping lawmakers will pass the Promise Act to add $1 billion for K through 12 education.

The advocates are also pushing for passage of the “Cherish Act”  to add more than $500 million for public higher education. 

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