Since the founding of our Commonwealth, we have held education to be one of the most vital resources we provide to our citizens. Every child deserves a good education - regardless of their zip code.
Played a Key Role in the Passage of the Student Opportunity Act
This legislation is the most significant change to public education funding since 1993 and represents an unprecedented $1.5 billion in new investment in our education system ($2.2 Billion when accounting for inflation). Senator O'Connor was a staunch advocate for the legislation over multiple sessions and was a member of the conference committee responsible for writing the bill's final language. The legislation adjusts the education funding formula to better assess the necessary costs of each individual district, distributes resources more evenly, and enables schools to provide the opportunity every child deserves. Adjustments to the formula better account for the rising cost of employee health care, and increases in special education and English learner enrollment.
Read Senator O'Connor's Editorial on this legislation here.
Supported the LOOK Act (An Act Relative to Language Opportunity for Our Kids)
In 2009, a report found that only 20% of Sheltered English Immersion students achieved proficiency - there were simply too many of these students falling through the cracks. Senator O'Connor supported this legislation as it sought to address the achievement gap that exists between students who are English Learners and those who are not. The bill afforded local school districts the flexibility to implement programs that they believe work best for their community, gave parents a say in what they believe is best for their child, and equipped the state government with the tools it needed to efficiently implement and monitor an effective English Language curriculum.
Advocated for Universal Free Full-Day Kindergarten
Senator O'Connor believes a good education requires a solid base and has always advocated for free full-day kindergarten programs. He recently secured $250,000 to assist Weymouth in implementing their free full day kindergarten program for the 2020-2021 school year. Prior to that, he filed an amendment to S.2350 which would have required the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to create and offer a grant program designed to help schools establish or maintain free full-day kindergarten. This grant program was designed to offer matching grants to communities looking to establish a new free full-day kindergarten program when they didn’t have one already, or to communities who currently offer free full-day kindergarten but are at serious financial risk of losing that program. At the time, 38 school districts required families to pay a fee for their child’s participation in a full-day program.
Pushed for School Safety Initiatives and Funding
Every child deserves a safe and supportive learning environment - Senator O'Connor has always partnered with the towns he represents to advocate for the resources they need to achieve this pursuit. In recent years, Senator O'Connor secured hundreds of thousands of dollars to assist schools in the district in making critical school security upgrades, secured funding for the towns of Cohasset and Hull to cover the costs associated with having a School Resource Officer, and filed legislation that would require School Resource Officers to receive specialized training relating to working with adolescents and children, including cognitive development, de-escalation techniques, and alternatives to arrest and diversion strategies.
- Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Education
- Served on the Conference Committee Responsible for writing the Student Opportunity Act
- Served on the Conference Committee Responsible for writing the Look Act
- Endorsed by the Massachusetts Teachers Association, the Boston Teachers Union, and the American Federation of Teachers
For a question on any of Senator O’Connor’s votes or policy that he supports please click here to ask us.