MMP Advocacy Highlight: The PROMISE Act

In the wake of 250,000 college students moving back to Boston and the first week of classes ending, Mass Mentoring Partnership would like to take a minute to step back and welcome the start of the 2019-2020 school year. With the kickoff of a new academic year, a variety of opportunities arise. New classes, sports, and clubs make this a period of difficult decisions for many young people across the Commonwealth, but also one of tremendous potential for growth and development.

Now is a better time than ever to discuss a current piece of legislation called the PROMISE Act, an act providing rightful opportunities and meaningful investment for successful and equitable education, because all children should have access to the resources they need to reach their potential. In Massachusetts, school related funds are determined based off of local property taxes, leading to disproportionately few schools receiving the majority of available funding. Typically, higher property taxes indicate wealthier families with more resources for fueling their children’s education. The fact that these schools also receive more funding further deepens the divide between rich and poor, and leaves many students behind.

The PROMISE Act seeks to rectify this issue by ensuring adequate distribution to all areas and by updating the state’s funding formula for chapter 70, making it more equitable. State senator Sonia Chang-Diaz created the original petition and is the lead sponsor for the bill while representative Aaron Vega has cosponsored the bill in the house.

Children should not be limited in their pursuit of an education by their parents’ pocketbook. Hampering low-income communities, the areas that need additional funding most, yet traditionally receive the least, is a direct cause for the systemic nature of poverty. That is why when Sen. Chang-Diaz asked MMP to become a community partner, we were honored to sign on to the project, seeing this as an opportunity to pump funds into communities in dire need of wraparound support services. We have been encouraging all state senators to pass the bill without alterations to the funding recommendations. With any luck, additional funding could even go to supporting our dropout prevention programs! Our work throughout the Commonwealth has made it readily apparent just how pivotal proper funding for support staff can be for ensuring safe mental development.

For more on the PROMISE Act, read testimony written by our CEO, Lily Mendez, here!

By: Jackson Slaughter