Senate President Spilka Proposes Free Community College For All Students

Young multi-ethnic female students writing exams

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BOSTON (WBZNewsRadio) - As the new legislative session began, Senate President Karen Spilka announced she would prioritize making community college free for Massachusetts residents.

It's all part of the senate's new "Student Opportunity Plan," which she said, would invest in the state's youngest learners and support the journey onto higher education.

"According to a recent article in The Boston Globe, enrollment in community colleges is declining, as potential students must decide between paying for and attending classes or working to put food on the table. Community college students are often working parents, recent immigrants and those from low-income backgrounds." Spilka said. "They are the very people we picture when we think of the words “American Dream” and “opportunity.” That is why, this session, as part of the senate’s new “Student Opportunity Plan,”— I am calling on us to make community college free for all students, and for us to determine how we can dedicate more funds to public higher education institutions all across our state so that every young person can fulfill their dreams for their futures."

Her remarks were met with a round of applause from lawmakers.

Spika has long been a public education advocate. She said helping pass the 2019 education funding reform bill, aptly named "The Student Opportunity Act" in her first year as president, was among her "proudest accomplishments in office."

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"Together with the historic Student Opportunity Act, we have a chance to transform our education landscape with a deeper commitment to public higher education AND early education and care in our expanded “Student Opportunity Plan.” With this more inclusive and far-reaching plan, we can create a pipeline of hope for our students, workforce, business leaders, public servants and – ultimately – for all of us." She said.

The Senate President isn't alone in her fight for investments in public higher Education. In December, the Massachusetts Teachers Association and the American Federation of Teachers, began preparing a plan for increased funding for the state's community colleges, state universities and UMass schools.

No legislation has officially been filed, however Spilka says she is looking forward to working with stakeholders and her colleagues in the Senate to finalize the legislation.

WBZ's Brooke McCarthy (@BrookeWBZ) reports:

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