Tuesday, September 13, 2016

In Perplexing Decision, Connecticut Judge Fails to Raise the Bar for Adequate School Funding | janresseger

In Perplexing Decision, Connecticut Judge Fails to Raise the Bar for Adequate School Funding | janresseger:

In Perplexing Decision, Connecticut Judge Fails to Raise the Bar for Adequate School Funding

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Last week, Connecticut Judge Thomas G. Moukawsher found Connecticut’s system of education unconstitutional.  Here is how Elizabeth Harris of the NY Times describes the decision in the eleven year old case, Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding v. Rell: “Reading his ruling from the bench for more than two hours, Judge Thomas Moukawsher of State Superior Court in Hartford said that ‘Connecticut is defaulting on its constitutional duty’ to give all children an adequate education.  Judge Moukawsher’s decision was a response to a lawsuit filed more than a decade ago that claimed the state was shortchanging the poorest districts when it came to school funding. What separates the decision from those in dozens of similar suits around the country is that rather than addressing money only, it requires the state to rethink nearly every major aspect of its system.”  It is expected that Judge Moukawsher’s decision will be appealed.
In a wishful and foolishly simplistic front-page analysis for the NY Times—an analysis that muses on national issues of education policy and misunderstands the legal implications of the Connecticut decision, Kate Zernike compliments Judge Moukawsher’s wide-ranging condemnation of Connecticut’s entire system of education: “(H)is unsparing 90-page ruling read and resonated like a cry from the heart on the failings of American public education… He criticized ‘uselessly perfect teacher evaluations’ that found ‘virtually every teacher in the state’ proficient or exemplary, while a third of students in many of the poorest communities cannot read even at basic levels… Though his ruling was about Connecticut, he spoke to a larger nationwide truth: After decades of lawsuits about equity and adequacy in education financing, after federal efforts like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, after fights over the Common Core standards and high-stakes testing and the tug of war between charter schools and community schools, the stubborn achievement gaps between rich and poor, minority and white students persist.”
While anyone who has been paying attention to decades’ of so-called efforts to reform American public education can certainly sympathize with Zernike’s frustration, Harris quotes William S. Koski, a school finance expert at Stanford University, who notes that Judge Moukawsher did not decide the issue the court was charged to address—inadequate school funding in Connecticut’s poorest school districts: “Most of these school finance lawsuits are In Perplexing Decision, Connecticut Judge Fails to Raise the Bar for Adequate School Funding | janresseger:


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