LAWRENCE — Area legislators joined more than 100 community members to voice support for fully funded, locally controlled schools at last week’s virtual Merrimack Valley spring legislative forum.

State Sens. Diana DiZoglio and Barry Finegold were joined by state Reps. Linda Dean Campbell, Marcos Devers, James Kelcourse, Christina Minicucci, Lenny Mira, Frank Moran, Tram Nguyen and Andy Vargas for the conversation around education during the pandemic. Topics included ending the state standardized MCAS exam, receivership in Lawrence and the mental health needs of students.

The event was sponsored by the Greater Lawrence Education Justice Alliance, Jobs With Justice, the American Federation of Teachers, and the Massachusetts Teachers Association.

“We hope others in the Merrimack Valley delegation will follow Sen. DiZoglio’s lead in recognizing the need for meaningful and progressive change that ends the racist policy of receivership and standardized testing, and restores democracy and the voices of educators in the region,” Jobs With Justice’s Dr. Marianela Rivera said.

Earlier this week, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education board voted to modify graduation requirements for this year’s 11th-graders so that the Class of 2022 won’t be required to take the MCAS to graduate, given the coronavirus pandemic.

The change, recommended last month by Commissioner Jeff Riley, marks the first time since 2003 an entire high school class has been exempted from having to pass the exam in order to graduate.

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