Letter: Preserving education could be finest hour

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To the editor:

The recent unanimous passage of the landmark Student Opportunity Act demonstrated legislative acknowledgment of responsibility for abiding by the state Constitution to provide the resources to achieve quality public education, equitably, regardless of zip code, as we are all fond of saying now.

However, on the eve of its implementation, we have been slammed with a pandemic that challenges how we've been living our lives for the past several generations and how we will conduct ourselves in the present and future. For some, the challenge is overwhelming; but, history demonstrates that with adversity also comes opportunity.

Recalling a scene from the movie "Apollo 13," as the astronauts face an imminent catastrophe, two characters remark:     

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NASA director: "This could be the worst disaster NASA's ever experienced."

Gene Kranz: "With all due respect, sir, I believe this is gonna be our finest hour."

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Thus, with the Commonwealth and the nation, we have the opportunity for this calamity to become our finest hour.

The conditions existing prior to the SOA have not gone away. Indeed, if anything, the pandemic has served to more clearly expose the magnitude of the breadth and depth of inequities that exist in our society. However, the resources to address and overcome our challenges also exist and, while recent events have tragically demonstrated that we absolutely have much work to do, we have the opportunity to craft solutions to achieve a more just society along with a vibrant economy that provides a lifestyle that's the envy of and model for the world. Indeed, according to a June 17 report from the Mass Budget and Policy Center, we have a history in the Commonwealth of enacting legislation that progressively raises the revenue necessary to match our rhetoric. It does require the diverse skills of many people and mustering the political courage to reject the austerity narrative while deploying our resources to overcome adversity and injustice.

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Do we choose to lay off thousands of educators and threaten the future of our children and nation or do we choose to close tax loopholes for big corporations, raise taxes on unearned income and reverse the recent tax cuts for the super-rich? Our legislators, both federal and state, have asked to hear our voices to help them convince their colleagues and leadership that there is incontrovertible and major support for progressive taxation (just as with the very popular Fair Share Amendment).

Whether clicking, typing, or calling, please use whatever means possible to tell your legislators and leadership that we need them to act now to close tax loopholes, pass the federal Heroes Act, and enact progressive taxation strategies in the Commonwealth so that this will turn out to be our finest hour!

Neil Clarke,

Lee


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