Truth From Fiction – The real story about CT School Funding (by Wendy Lecker)
A primer about Connecticut School Funding by Wendy Lecker
In September, Connecticut Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher issued a controversial decision in Connecticut’s long-running school funding case, CCJEF v. Rell. Judge Moukawsher set forth a very narrow vision of what is needed in public schools in order to provide an adequate education; a vision that contradicted precedent across the United States and precedent from the Connecticut Supreme Court itself. He essentially ruled that the State need only provide the “bare minimum” of facilities, teachers and instrumentalities of learning, and labeled anything beyond these three narrow categories as “extras;” even though it is accepted that students, especially our neediest students, need much more than that in order to have the opportunity for an adequate education.
Judge Moukawsher did highlight the inequities in wealthy versus poor districts in Connecticut. However, he refused to recognize that the extra resources that districts with needy require are part of a constitutionally adequate education. Thus, if allowed to stand, his decision would render it impossible to create an equitable school funding system in Connecticut- one that provided adequate resources to our neediest districts. His decision has been appealed by both the State and CCJEF, and will reach the Connecticut Supreme Court in the spring of 2017.
In the meantime, there have been calls for Connecticut to fix its school funding formula before the CCJEF appeal is heard. The loudest calls have been coming from the charter lobby, which wants to seize this opportunity not to create a more just school funding system, but rather to create a system that facilitates the diversion of public dollars intended for public schools to privately managed charter schools.
The charter lobby has usurped the language of equity to advance its cause. It claims that Truth From Fiction – The real story about CT School Funding (by Wendy Lecker) - Wait What?: