Education & Social Services

Education & Social Services

This post is the eleventh of a twelve-part series to publicize candidate answers to our Electoral Questionnaire. Candidates were required to answer all questions to be eligible for Boston DSA’s endorsement.

Boston DSA will vote on endorsements at the July 21st General Meeting.

This section asks candidates about sex education, charter schools, college tuition, public schools, and public transit.

When you are in office, will you propose and support legislation that mandates comprehensive sex education in schools, and what is your current position on MA H. 3704, “The Healthy Youth Bill”?

Gretchen Van Ness

  • Yes.

Darryn Remillard

  • Yes.

Segun Idowu

  • Yes. I support MA H. 3704.

Nika Elugardo

  • Absolutely. It’s appalling to me that Massachusetts doesn’t already have such legislation in place. It’s vital to children’s healthy development that they understand their bodies and their sexuality and are given comprehensive, medically accurate, LGBTQ+ inclusive, and nonjudgmental education on the subject.

Ture Turnbull

  • Yes. I support “The Healthy Youth Bill” as a tool to improve and expand our sex education programming in the Commonwealth.

Darrin Howell

  • Yes.

Do you oppose charter schools? Do you support free tuition at State Universities/colleges, or student loan debt forgiveness? Do you support universal pre-kindergarten?

Gretchen Van Ness

  • Yes, yes, and yes.

Darryn Remillard

  • Yes.

Segun Idowu

  • I cannot support the creation of more charter schools, in light of the financial impact they take on our traditional public schools. I believe we must fully fund public schools. I fully support free tuition at state colleges/universities. I also support student loan debt forgiveness, as well as universal pre-kindergarten. We have to expand opportunities to receive a quality education and not saddle students with lifelong debt for wanting to pursue an education.

Nika Elugardo

  • Yes—I want to strengthen our educational system such that charter schools are no longer viewed as necessary. We need to prioritize our public schools, making sure they are properly funded so they can serve everyone and provide the kind of education our children deserve. I also support free tuition for higher education. This isn’t even a particularly radical idea—as recently as the 1980s, California’s public colleges and universities were tuition-free. I support student loan debt forgiveness; too many of our citizens are trapped under crushing loads of student loan debt and are held back by it. For the cost of the GOP’s federal tax bill, we could forgive ALL the student loan debt in the United States. I also support universal prekindergarten. All our children deserve equal access to high-quality early education. If they can do it in New York, we can do it here.

Ture Turnbull

  • Yes to all of the above.

Darrin Howell

  • Yes. Yes. Yes. And yes. It’s impossible to overstate the importance of early childhood education. The experiences our children have at this early stage have a profound effect on their ability to succeed academically and professionally. We need significant investments in early childhood initiatives — from elimination of the childcare voucher waitlist to universal access to Pre-K programs across the state. I have a lot more to say on all of these given the critical importance of education, but time is limited!

What policies would you propose to support public schools in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and to help prevent the privatization of education through charter schools?

Gretchen Van Ness

  • We need to update the funding mechanism in Chapter 70 so that the school districts that have greater need receive greater funding. We need to enact a progressive income tax so that we have the resources to invest in critical infrastructure, including public schools. When public schools are great, there’s no need for charter schools. It’s our responsibility to make all public schools great.

Darryn Remillard

  • We could start by actually implementing the recommendations of the FBRC and updating the funding formula for our public schools.

Segun Idowu

  • I supported (and continue to support) the cap on charter schools. I also support the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission and would (and will) support legislation to increase funding for urban school districts. I would work with future colleagues like Sen. Chang-Diaz to push for the full funding of these initiatives, as well as work with colleagues at the city level to ensure we fully fund BPS.

Nika Elugardo

  • Massachusetts’ foundation budget was established in 1993. That’s 25 years ago! It’s obviously overdue for an update. My opponent, Rep. Sanchez, is chair of the Ways and Means Committee in the House and recently (with Rep. Peisch) wrote a letter arguing against further increases to the Foundation Budget formula (the Senate has already passed such increases). I would increase the Foundation Budget Formula immediately. I would also fight against bills attempting to impose “empowerment” or “innovation partnership zones”—public schools should remain in public control. Such zones would allow the commissioner of education to create charter-like zones of two or more schools and appoint a governing board, stripping elected school committees of all authority and gutting local collective bargaining agreements. I would work to fully fund what we know works for students from families experiencing poverty: early education. Early education programs are proven to raise academic performance and give children the skills and tools to be successful. A longitudinal study of at-risk children in Michigan who were enrolled in a high-quality preschool program found that over the course of the participants’ lifetimes, every $1 invested in early childhood education programs yielded more than $17 in returns to society. We also need to go back and raise taxes on the wealthy. The Millionaire’s Tax was defeated by the Supreme Judicial Court, but the legislature can and should increase revenue. Massachusetts’ constitution forbids a progressive tax system. I support a constitutional amendment to change that. I spent an externship in law school studying the history and feasibility of the amendment, and I believe we may be able to get it passed in the emerging climate where more mainstream viewpoints are calling for the end to the wealth gap. In the very immediate term, I also support a clever work-around: Raise the “flat” income tax rate to something like 6%, and increase the standard deduction and rental deduction so that working families see no change in their actual effective tax rate (but millionaires pay more). That money should be directed to education and other social programs.

Ture Turnbull

  • I would support the Chapter 70 foundational budget reform; expand debt forgiveness program, work towards the provision of free higher education; ensure in-state tuition to all eligible students; regardless of immigration status; ensure that there are clear pathways and partnerships between our public school system and our world renowned universities.

Darrin Howell

  • The work done on the foundation formula is a start, but we have further to go. I believe that our public schools should remain public — and that means maintaining local control within our communities whenever possible.
    I also support fully funding charter reimbursement. If the state creates an education mandate, then I believe it is the state’s responsibility to ensure proper funding for that mandate. In this case, the Commonwealth committed to specific reimbursements over a set period of time, but our schools have barely seen half of that funding come through. This just isn’t the way we should be doing business — especially on important issues that affect our children.
    I support prohibiting for-profit charter schools and the overall cap on charter schools as well. I was a vocal supporter of the “No on Question 2” campaign — and strongly opposed the effort to increase the cap in 2016. While I ultimately left the state temporarily to help the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton in Florida, I was thrilled to see the incredible turnout in opposition to the ill-fated charter plan in Massachusetts

Do you oppose privatization of the MBTA (The T)?

Gretchen Van Ness

  • Yes.

Darryn Remillard

  • Yes.

Segun Idowu

  • Yes.

Nika Elugardo

  • Yes.

Ture Turnbull

  • Yes. The key term in public transportation is public.

Darrin Howell

  • Yes. I oppose privatization efforts in all cases. It just never works out.

Do you support increasing funding for public transit?

Gretchen Van Ness

  • Yes.

Darryn Remillard

  • Yes.

Segun Idowu

  • Yes, absolutely.

Nika Elugardo

  • Yes.

Ture Turnbull

  • Yes.

Darrin Howell

  • Yes. In the never-ending debate about “who pays for the MBTA/RTAs,” stakeholders often lose sight of how vital these systems are to individual lives and the health of our broader economy. Public transit isn’t a luxury or a “nice to have” in my community; it’s a lifeline, and often the only option to get to work, school, medical appointments, etc. The Fair Share Amendment would have been an important first step at generating progressive revenue for transit, but it’s clearly not the end of the conversation.

Do you support taking measures to reduce transit fares or making public transit free?

Gretchen Van Ness

  • Yes. This is a critical issue in my district, which is served by three commuter rail lines that charge such high fares that most working people can’t afford to use them. The Boston City Council has been trying to address this problem but they need a partner at the State House. I will be that partner and leader.

Darryn Remillard

  • Yes.

Segun Idowu

  • Yes. This is especially important for my district where several commuter lines fall outside of zone 1A, and so some residents pay $6.25 per trip vs. $2.25 in other parts.

Nika Elugardo

  • Yes.

Ture Turnbull

  • Yes.

Darrin Howell

  • Yes.

What policies would you put forward to combat the alienation and social isolation of life under capitalism?

Gretchen Van Ness

  • I am a firm believer in the radical idea of the commonwealth — that we are all in this together and that our fates are inextricably linked. I believe that human beings are social animals and that we need each other, that there’s no problem we can’t solve together, and that our problems won’t be solved until we come together. I believe in healthy cities, great public parks, vibrant public spaces of every description, and rich cultural institutions and experiences — and ensuring that everyone has the time and health to enjoy them. I believe that work can and should be dignified and empowering. I believe that we have stopped expecting things to get better and instead just hope that things don’t get too much worse. I support policies that create and enhance all of the things that make our commonwealth healthy, strong, inclusive, diverse, creative, expansive, and enduring, while minimizing and doing away with the things that harm us.

Darryn Remillard

  • This is difficult to implement at a state-level, but we really do need a Universal Service Model wherein everyone engages in public service for a discerete period of time.

Segun Idowu

  • As stated earlier, I support publicly-funded housing, health care, and jobs programs. I also support progressive taxation and a graduated income tax.

Nika Elugardo

  • The best solution to the sense of alienation and social isolation that so many of us have felt is to do what DSA and many other groups are doing: Come together around shared values and build a real community. Promoting shared ownership in commerce, from car shares to home shares to food shares, is an important cultural shift that can also lead to more equitable distribution of goods. We need to guarantee a seat at the legislative table. People should be part of closed-room decision making. We need to be accountable to the community processes that yield proposals for change. WE need to build that type of evaluation and the accountability mechanism into the legislation we write.. The legislature should do what we can to fund community buildings and programs that build that sense of community and solidarity. I’m not foolish enough to think we can legislate this, but we can create the conditions for authentic community to grow and develop. I will fight tooth and nail to protect funding that does exist so that an austerity mindset doesn’t choke off real community.

Ture Turnbull

  • This is why I: promote zoning reform that would allow seniors to age in place; will push for students to receive free higher education, despite immigration status; will not support privatization of public transportation and other public services. For too long the broken capitalist structure has led to private interests making money off of the pathologies of power they created.

Darrin Howell

  • We talked about social determinants of health earlier, and poverty and discrimination are the single largest drivers of inequity and disease. Poverty and discrimination also happen to be directly facilitated by capitalism, no matter which way you cut it. So these issues all go hand-in-hand. As DSA members know, dismantling that system is no small task! But I look forward to working with you to identify concrete steps we can take to address these challenges in the short-term as we continue to do the long-term work needed to bring about a truly equal and just society.

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