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Early Education Funding Among Targets For State

Massachusetts is looking for ways to financially revitalize the early education funding in the state.
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Spending additional tax revenue may not be the solution to the state's educational achievement gap, according to researchers taking a fresh look at Massachusetts' education system.

Instead, a recent report from the Rennie Center think tank suggests the state needs to be better at encouraging successful programs to flourish instead of simply feeding money into the existing school funding system.

"What we need to do is move beyond ideas and the churn of innovation and equip those working on the front lines with the resources and capacity to implement effective evidence-based strategy," said Rennie Center executive director Brad d'Entremont after a briefing for lawmakers and staff Tuesday.

D'Entremont says that while Massachusetts is still a leader in education, the center's report suggests more evidence-based programs need to be encouraged and funded to address the performance gap between rich and poor students.

House Education Committee Chairwoman Alice Peisch agreed, telling WGBH News the House will focus on promoting high quality early education this session.

"I think there is no question that there are certain initiatives, programs that are useful that will require additional resources, but I am very cognitive of the fact that resources alone without an effective program, without utilizing them in an effective program, are not helpful," Peisch said.

The Rennie Center report labels 2018 as "time for reflection" and says this year's annual report takes a step back from "a sense of reform overload" and looks broadly at the state's educational system just over a year after voters rejected a ballot question to allow the expansion of charter schools in the state.

"There's a lot of common ground between charter advocates and charter opponents. That we're all interested in creating a more student-centered system. One that can be innovative, one that has demonstrated evidence of success. And if any school and any governance model achieves those goals, I think we'd be pretty happy with it," d'Entremont said.

Peisch says the House may act to increase funding for early education programs in its budget proposal.

Meanwhile, Senate proposals have floated the idea of adding more tax dollars to schools to bridge the achievement gap.

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