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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

UMass Boston’s Budget Crisis and DeVos’ Proposal for Education

On Tuesday, Feb. 7, the United States Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos as the country’s Secretary of Education. The vote was tied in a 50 to 50 deadlock until Vice President Mike Pence endorsed Mrs. DeVos.

“The Senate being equally divided, the Vice President votes in the affirmative and the nomination is confirmed,” Pence announced.

Before her career in politics, DeVos was a business woman, and is a publicly-noted campaign contributor for the Republican Party. According to a recent article published by the New Yorker, DeVos and her husband, Dick DeVos have been supporters of the charter school movement since the 90s. In 1993, they passed the first Charter school bill in their hometown in Michigan, which allowed privatized education institutions to extract money from public schools. At the time, former Superintendent Tom Watkins told the local newspaper, “In a number of cases people are making…money and the kids aren’t getting educated.”

DeVos, who now oversees approximately 50 million American school children, has continually advocated for voucher programs, and is hoping to increase funding for charter schools. Her contributions to charter schools have been highly criticized, especially by several Republicans in the Senate, who managed to withhold their support until DeVos’ nomination by Pence.

DeVos’ plan to provide vouchers to charter schools would be funneled from public schools. Although charter schools would be receiving financial support under these vouchers, charter school are not required to enact the same accommodations as public schools. Despite all the money charter schools are receiving, they can not only choose what to invest in, but also have the leniency to limit or expand their accommodations to certain programs and activities by privatized choice.  

With various charter schools in the area, the University of Massachusetts Boston stands as the city’s only public university. Educating an estimated 17,000 students, UMass Boston has been facing a continual financial crisis for the past year. Last November, UMass Boston held an Open Budget Forum, hosted by the Budget and Planning Committee to discuss the university’s financial standings. Currently under the heavy construction for dorms and renovations of new buildings, the school has spent more money than expected.

At the same time, the Open Budget Forum has announced that UMass Boston is still expected to pay an extra $7 million to the state. In addition, according to Ellen O’Connor, who paneled at the event, stated, “we’re spending money faster,” and even with emergency funds available, there won’t be enough to provide the school with complete financial security.

The Moody’s Investor Service, one of the top school rating agencies, gave the University of Massachusetts System positive ratings for it financial responsibilities in handling its expenses and revenues just last year.
But in addition to the investments made for the school’s construction of dorms and its other investments, the Boston Globe last week reported that the Healey Library’s budget cut by 20 percent. More specifically, the Healey Library has lost $700,00 with this budget cut. According to Professor Leonard von Morzé, a Professor at UMass Boston who teaches African American Literature, this budget “really is changing the way that I am going to be teaching my early African-American literature class.”