Our Opinion: School funding puzzle

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The state is underfunding education by $1 billion a year according to a report issued this past summer by the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center and leaders of the Legislature have indicated that addressing that shortfall will be a priority in 2019. Last week, the nonprofit MassInc, acknowledging the disadvantages faced by so-called Gateway cities, of which Pittsfield is one, said more funding should be provided to urban districts facing difficult challenges but asserted there must be more accountability in exchange for that funding, which local school districts setting the parameters for this accountability. While there is logic to this approach, the difficulty will be in not penalizing urban school districts where teachers confront more students who were not adequately prepared for school than were students in wealthier school districts, resulting in lower test scores. While lawmakers grapple with this issue, we urge them not to be sidetracked by an effort to put a so-called "millionaires" tax to raise education funding on the 2022 state ballot. The state can't wait four years for a solution that will more than likely be found unconstitutional by the state's highest court, as was the "millionaires tax" this year.


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