New Oxford Memo Outlines Sweeping Rewrite

Bob Kefgen's picture

The Oxford Foundation has released an update on its Public Education Finance Project (the self-selected name it has given its efforts to rewrite the School Aid Act). The memo outlines a project of extensive scope. When taken together with the legislation that has introduced already as part of this effort, the vision incorporates not only a funding system that is, in effect, a public school voucher, but also a host of new forms of charter school, and a new statewide super-charter authorizer.

The memo from the Oxford Foundation can be viewed by clicking here. A brief outline of the concepts currently included in the School Aid rewrite project follows:

  • A public school voucher program along the lines of the model laid out in the Oxford Foundation report "Disaggregating High School Education."
    • Students would receive access to their foundation allowance and would be able to purchase their education a la carte from different vendors
    • Schools would be required to maintain that student's records and act as fiduciary for the student's foundation allowance
    • The district would be required to track and accept student credits and award a diploma, regardless of where the student received his/her education
    • The proposal is silent on the question of accountability for student performance
  • A host of "new forms" of charter schools, as provided in HB 5923, that would allow special rules like selective enrollment, the charging of tuition, and a residential component. Schools could also be chartered by corporations and cultural institutions under the bill.
  • A new Education Achievement Authority (EAA), as outlined in SB 1358 and HB 6004, that would not only take over so-called failing schools, but would also be a new statewide super-authorizer for the new forms of charter schools.
  • A "performance based funding" component, which effectively ties a portion of a district's foundation allowance to its students performance on a yet-to-be-specified statewide assessment.
  • A significant emphasis on online learning with an open entry/open exit component that is designed to allow students to progress at their own pace all managed by MVU.

While the School Aid Act rewrite was initially slated for debate during next year's budget negotiations, some components of this plan have already been introduced in legislation that is up for debate during the lame-duck session. Because of the short timeframe associated with lame duck session and the importance of constituent feedback, MASSP will likely be reaching out to members over the next month to ask for your help in emailing or calling legislators regarding this and other issues.