Devin and Jason McCourty have extensive t-shirt collections, but when they and Duron Harmon picked out matching shirts to wear under their uniforms on July 26, there was a bigger meaning, a bigger picture.
The red shirts that read, "Fund our futures," are yet another chapter in their activism off the field. Since the end of the 2018 season, Devin, Jason, Duron and Matthew Slater have continued to speak out on behalf of students in Massachusetts, supporting the Education PROMISE Act.
The bill, which is currently in the Commonwealth's Joint Education Committee, aims to close the education gap between affluent and low-income school districts by updating the formula that determines funding. In 2015, the bipartisan Foundation Budget Review found that the state was underfunding its school systems by more than $1 billion annually.
"The most significant area of underinvestment was funding for low-income students — where the state's aging formula woefully underestimated the resources necessary to give low-income students needed supports and equal opportunities," they wrote in a Boston Globe op-ed this June.
Throughout the offseason, Devin, Jason, Duron and Matthew have testified in the state house, shared posts on social media, had meetings with public officials and even taken legislators on a tour of a local school.
"After the season, me, Dev, Duron and Slate went to the state house and testified on a new education bill, the PROMISE Act, to try and get it passed. [There are a] lot of inner city and low-income places and children throughout the state of Massachusetts to get better education," Jason said. "It wasn't a complaint on Massachusetts education because it's one of the best in the country but the achievement gap is so big and we're trying to close that gap. Right now it's in committee, and they're back and forth about what they want to do."
With the bill still in committee and legislation set to break on July 31, the guys are hoping to shine a light on the matter through social media, using their platforms to put pressure on legislators to create a solution.
In a statement for the Players Coalition, Devin, Jason, Duron and Matthew wrote: "We like winning. Some might say we love it. As much as we love winning in football, we also love to see our children winning in life. It is for this reason that this off-season we have made a dedicated effort to bring awareness to the ongoing push for equitable education in Massachusetts. The Joint Education Committee is negotiating an education funding reform bill that could help create a level playing field for all kids in Massachusetts. We need a plan that will fully fund low-income schools with critical resources, such as books and computers, PE, full-time Science and Math teachers, and wrap around services—the lack of which leads to crimes of poverty. Our kids do not belong in the criminal justice system, they belong in thriving, challenging, and fully resourced schools. Our kids belong in the nation's best schools and nothing else—not just some kids, but all kids. Join us in speaking up for our children before the legislative session concludes at the end of this month. Please contact your Legislator at 617-722-2000."
By wearing the shirts, which were also handed out to people who donated school supplies at training camp for Operation Backpack, the hope is that people know this group is invested in the futures of kids in Massachusetts, Jason said.
"[I hope people take away] just that we care. Me and Dev are from New York. Slate is from California. Du is from Delaware, but this is a city that we all play in," he said. "We want to show that it's important to us that we help the kids and the state that we play in and all throughout New England. Hopefully people will see us and know that we care about it, it brings awareness and they can start to care too."
Devin, Jason, Duron and Matthew also penned an op-ed about the bill in The Boston Globe in June. You can read their words here.