Passing any spending bill of this magnitude is a heavy lift. This was pushed over the past few years by a significant coalition of legislators, teachers unions, and community activists who never stopped building a movement. Even after the deal fell apart last year — and the end was ugly — reaching an agreement never felt impossible, because by then so many parties were invested in finding a solution.
The bill gives more money to districts with large concentrations of students in poverty and students of color. It also gives the state approval over how individual districts spend their newfound cash. That was one of the most contentious issues between the House and Senate, with the Senate pushing for less top-down control — a battle the House ultimately won in conference.
What was it like, I asked Chang-Díaz, to see the measure on which she spent years pass without being in the room negotiating for it?
“I don’t lament not being as involved,” she said. “I’ve been involved, just in a different role.”