An education reform law that worked

By Andrea Gabor for The Boston Globe

Twenty-five years after Massachusetts passed a historic education reform law that helped make it the gold-standard for American schooling, the Bay State reforms are coming under scrutiny again — and for good reason.

What happened in Massachusetts is actually a tale of two reforms. The first, signed into law on June 18, 1993, was a bipartisan achievement hammered out by a Republican governor and Democratic state legislators, and informed by a vigorous local debate among educators, parents, and business people who agreed on a “grand bargain”: substantially more state spending for schools in exchange for higher standards and increased accountability.

The law worked initially as intended. It infused over $1 billion in extra education funding — mostly to poor communities. Massachusetts achieved top scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the nation’s report card. By 2000, the gap between NAEP scores of black and white students had actually narrowed.

But subsequent tax cuts and the Great Recession gradually eroded school spending, which failed to keep pace “adequately or equitably,” according to a new report from the Massachusetts State Senate.

Read more here.

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