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Plaintiff Witnesses Attest to Inadequate Resources
Massachusetts School Funding Trial Set to Resume

At the end of September, plaintiffs in the Hancock v. Driscoll school funding adequacy case wrapped up testimony from local school district personnel and education experts in State Superior Court in Boston. The trial is currently in recess, and the State is scheduled to begin presenting testimony in its defense on October 28.

Attorneys for plaintiffs from 19 low-wealth Massachusetts school districts argued that the Commonwealth is failing to provide children in those communities an adequate education, as required by the state constitution. The court has heard detailed testimony from superintendents and other personnel in four exemplar school districts, which the Deputy Education Commissioner conceded in his testimony are well managed but lack adequate resourceSs.

The Council for Fair School Finance provides summaries of plaintiffs' testimony, which includes expert opinions on the cost of providing an adequate education, the benefits of preschool programs and small classes, and the impact of the lack of professional development for teachers, among many issues addressed.

Plaintiffs contend that the amount of funding necessary to teach students all that the state requires them to learn must be examined in light of the state's curriculum frameworks. They seek funding allocation that is aligned with the frameworks and is distributed so that all school districts have adequate resources.

The trial started in June and is expected to last through November. A Springfield high school hosted the courtroom proceedings for several days in June.

 

Prepared by Molly A. Hunter, October 21, 2003