MTA responds to Hancock ruling
The Hancock decision was handed down by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court February 15. The MTA was a strong supporter of the plaintiffs in this case, which is a continuation of the McDuffy case that was decided in favor of the plaintiffs in 1993. By a 5-2 majority, the court dismissed the Hancock case.
In its ruling, the SJC acknowledged that some students are not receiving an adequate education. However, the court ruled that the Legislature and governor should be given more time to address this problem. Thus, while the Hancock case was dismissed, the court:
- Reaffirmed that the state has a constitutional obligation to educate all students.
- Acknowledged that this obligation has not yet been met.
- Placed the burden of meeting that obligation squarely on the Legislature and governor.
The court also left the door open for litigation in the future under other circumstances. In addition, two out of the seven justices sided with the plaintiffs and felt that a remedy should be ordered immediately.
MTA President Catherine A. Boudreau issued the following statement:
"Education reform in the Commonwealth is not complete, and the court recognizes that fact. While a majority of the justices are willing to give the Legislature and governor more time, the court clearly acknowledges that 'significant inadequacies' in educational resources and quality continue to exist.
"Now our task as educators is to show our elected officials that too many children are being left behind under the current levels of funding. Every year that a child is stuck in an overcrowded classroom with out-dated textbooks is a shame, and should not be tolerated."
The MTA, working with other education organizations, will be taking the funding issue to the Legislature. The MTA will advocate for more resources to meet immediate needs, as well as support a bill to form a commission to determine what resources are needed into the future to make sure all students are provided with a quality education.