Ten years of PHENOM’s work is paying off.
Photo: 2017 Massachusetts Democratic Convention. (Courtesy of Rand Wilson)
The over 5,000 delegates representing the Massachusetts Democratic Party finally listened to PHENOM and put the right words on paper when it comes to fixing the high cost of college and the student debt crisis—free college. For the first time ever, MassDems adopted a radical shift in higher education policy and became the only state party in the country to endorse free public higher education and student loan forgiveness for all people.
Now, it’s our job to make sure this talk translates into real action to help students and working families across the Commonwealth!
Massachusetts has a huge opportunity to advance this cause next month. The Finish Line Grant would provide one year of free tuition and fees to working-class students at any of our 29 public colleges and universities. We need you to SHOW UP and advocate for the Finish Line Grant at the State House on July 13th.
Now, when you go to the State House to talk to your state lawmakers about the importance of making our public colleges and universities free to all, you’ll have some strong, new arguments to use. You’ll be able to ask “Do you agree with your party platform?” or “What are we doing to make our platform a reality through new funding and laws?”
This, along with the support for free public college from the Democratic candidates for governor, is showing the real impact of PHENOM’s education and advocacy work over the past several years. People across the Commonwealth are waking up to the privatization crisis that has caused skyrocketing tuition fees and crushing student debt for young people and working families.
Even Governor Charlie Baker is trying to look like he’s doing something on this issue. The tiny “Boston Bridge” program is labelled as a “free college” plan, even though it will likely only help under 500 students out of the 200,000 who attend public colleges in Massachusetts each year.
This move follows the endorsement of free public college by the Massachusetts Teachers Association two years ago, and the Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance, a statewide coalition of students, teachers, unions and community groups (including PHENOM), is fighting for free public college as the core of the higher education platform.
We need your help to win this fight! First, join us at the State House on July 13th and advocate for the Finish Line Grant (link). Then, join our email list at massphenom.org/join (link). Take action to tell your state lawmakers to fund our public colleges in this year’s state budget by clicking here (link). Get involved with chapters on your campus or in your area by emailing our organizing director, Sydney, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The MassDems 2013 platform was weak on higher education, but the new platform represents the real interests and goals of the young people of Massachusetts. The platform reads:
Free public education is a human right and, therefore, public education from high-quality, universal preschool and full-day kindergarten through higher education and vocational training should be free to residents.
Strong oversight and regulation of for-profit colleges, which saddle vulnerable students with enormous debt and degrees or credentials of dubious value.
Education has always been a right and any “income cap” or “means test” to qualify for free public education is a rejection of this human right and, this right shall extend retroactively through cancellation of existing student debt for 1) all Massachusetts residents; 2) Massachusetts residents who were classified as “out of state” residents while attending a college outside of Massachusetts.