It is time for a real, serious and honest look at Connecticut’s school funding crisis, not the cop-out version that has been recently proposed as part of Connecticut’s budget plan.
Fellow pro-public education blogger and commentator, Wendy Lecker, has another “MUST READ” column this week in the Stamford Advocate, CT Post and the other newspapers that are part of the Hearst Connecticut Media Group.
You can find her full post here; Wendy Lecker: State must take serious look at school funding
As Lecker notes, “Connecticut is a study in contrasts. We have pockets of incredible wealth, and areas struggling with entrenched poverty. We have school districts with few needy children, and those with high concentrations of children living in poverty, English language learners and students with disabilities. There are districts with gleaming labs, large marching bands, theater, and foreign language offered in kindergarten, while in other districts, children sit in overcrowded classrooms with inadequate libraries, no electives, insufficient books and not even enough paper. This resource disparity translates into a disparity of educational opportunity, with some districts sending scores of children to elite colleges while others have alarmingly low graduation rates.
Connecticut has allowed this chasm in educational opportunity to exist for years, in part because we have never taken an honest look at what it costs to educate all children no matter what their need.”
Lecker recognizes that the process must begin with an “educational adequacy cost study.”
As she explains, “In such a study, experts first identify the basic educational resources needed to meet state standards. Then, they “cost out” those resources, taking into account the factors that affect the cost, such as student need, geographic differences, and population density. Different levels of student need, such as poverty, limited English proficiency and disability, affect the cost of resources necessary. Moreover, the severity and/or concentration of poverty and the level of disability can add to educational cost. For over 20 years states and courts have used these studies to devise rational school finance systems with a transparent relationship between state aid, student need and a district’s ability to raise revenue.”
But despite an across the board recognition that a cost study is needed, Governor Malloy failed to propose one as part of his recent changes to the State’s Educational Cost Sharing (ECS) formula.
Instead, as Lecker points out, Malloy ” proposed inappropriate changes to our school finance system that will render even more children invisible in the eyes of the ECS formula.”
Furthermore, she writes, “The governor’s plan to completely remove English Language Learners from ECS is a step in exactly the wrong direction. Such a move would have devastating effect on many municipalities. In a state with a growing Latino population, and others from non-English-speaking homes, this proposal is ludicrous. Moreover, Malloy’s proposal reduces the weight for poverty, providing fewer funds to educate poor children. To make matters worse, the proposal once again fails to include a weight for special education.”
Although Governor Malloy has failed to take the necessary steps towards fiscal transparency and adequacy, Connecticut’s legislators can correct that mistake.
You can find Lecker’s full commentary piece at: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-State-must-take-serious-look-at-4301439.php#ixzz2LjtWjttN