Jepsen/Malloy move to destroy most important school funding lawsuit in modern times

Next Monday, on September 16, 2013, Attorney General George Jepsen, with the help and support of Governor Dannel Malloy, will go before a Connecticut Superior Court judge in what could be termed a despicable attempt to dismiss the most important school finance lawsuit in nearly five decades.  In fact, the case, CCJEF v. Rell, may well be the most important school finance lawsuit in Connecticut history.

Once upon a time, when Governor Dannel Malloy was Mayor Dan Malloy of Stamford, he not only supported the CCJEF v. Rell lawsuit but was an original plaintiff in the historic battle to force the State of Connecticut to fulfill its constitutional obligation to the children of Connecticut.

As a candidate for governor, Malloy repeatedly proclaimed that he would implement a solution to Connecticut’s school finance crisis and end the need for the CCJEF v. Rell case.

But now with Malloy’s support, Connecticut’s attorney general is trying to dismiss this important case altogether.

Long before Malloy became governor, before governors Rell, Rowland, Weicker, O’Neill and Grasso, there was the famous Connecticut lawsuit of Horton v. Meskill, a case designed to force Governor Meskill and the Connecticut General Assembly to adopt a fair school financing system.  In 1977, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled, “that the right to education in Connecticut is so basic and fundamental that any intrusion on the right must be strictly scrutinized.” The Court said that “public school students are entitled to equal enjoyment of the right to education, and a system of school financing that relied on local property tax revenues without regard to disparities in town wealth and that lacked significant equalizing state support was unconstitutional. It could not pass the test of strict judicial scrutiny.”

The court ordered the executive and legislative branches to develop a new school funding system.

Now, nearly four decades later, Connecticut still doesn’t have a fair and equitable school financing system.

But the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding, a statewide coalition of municipalities, local boards of education, education associations, unions, pro-education advocacy organizations, parents, public schoolchildren and taxpayers, are working to change that once and for all.

Founded in 2004, the coalition filed a lawsuit against the state of Connecticut in 2005.  That suit is called CCJEF v. Rell and it charges that Connecticut has failed to “adequately and equitably fund the public schools in accordance with its constitutional obligation.”

In March of 2010, the Connecticut Supreme Court took up CCJEF V. Rell and ruled all public school students in Connecticut have the constitutional right to an effective and meaningful (quality, adequate) education and CCJEF’s claim for a new public financing system was appropriate.

The Connecticut Supreme Court sent the case back to the Superior Court for a full trial on the merits and the trail is scheduled for July 2014.

But whether Governor Malloy and Attorney General Jepsen have reversed themselves and no longer believe in the constitutional right of Connecticut’s children or are simply trying to push the case past the next gubernatorial election, the duo have asked the Connecticut court to dismiss the case entirely.

Their move is an insult to every student, parent, teacher and taxpayer in the state of Connecticut.

It is hard to conceive that Jepsen and Malloy, two long-time Democrats, would be wasting time and scarce taxpayer resources in an attempt to dismiss this case.

The children of Connecticut deserve better.

More information on CCJEF go to:   http://ccjef.org/

  • readdoctor

    With DEMs like these who need enemies

    • Jeff

      I agree, readdoctor! Are these regular readers of this blog? or spies in our midst?

  • [email protected]

    We need to help every child right now, not wait for lawsuits that can only have one reasonable outcome: an order to change the formula so that the same amount of money is invested in each child for the same resources for them to access. (and that is useless as we currently spend more in Bridgeport per child than we do in Greenwich but the resources do not reach the children in Bridgeport). Cut to the quick. That is all this lawsuit can do. So is it needed? Any major change would require property tax reform and a move from funding schools from local property taxes to state or federal income taxes (my personal preference) to initiate a change in funding. I am not sure this lawsuit could accomplish that. And the irony is we could spend $20K per child in one town and $10k in another and have totally different outcomes as it all depends on how good the teachers are, whether they have books and resources, if the children are well fed and feel safe,
    and how small the class size is as learning has always been since Oxford University was formed!

    that y

    • Aparthied First

      Did you cut and paste this from the School Reform Privatization Auto-Reply generator? “Lawsuits take so long, and charters are so fast–just close a failing school and then hand it over to a charter.”
      I have no idea, in truth, what ctmlhr is saying–“change the formula so that the same amount of money is invested in each child for the same resources for them to access”??? where did you go to school? The disparity in funding between a student in Bridgeport and a student in Greenwich is cavernous–and, even though the property tax method of school funding is partly responsible for this, it is not the whole picture. A lawsuit like CCJEF can accomplish a lot.
      I can’t comprehend the end of your reply–I’d wager that spending $20K per child (which many parents do, in sending their children to prep schools) would yield fabulous results. As for Oxford University??? I won’t address this because preK-12 education is very different from university study.

  • Bill Morrison

    Who knew . . . Malloy came out as a Republican Neo Con. Or, is it Democrapublican?

  • buygoldandprosper

    Another “distraction” that should be put quietly to bed.
    Our kinder, gentler Dan who offered “help” to New Jersey yesterday is just looking out for the best interests of the children. There is enough money in the general fund to go around. Don’t worry! Tabacco settlement cash, keno- lotto-casino cash, gas tax… whatever Dan can find and sweep into the general fund he will have his lapdogs, like Pryor, pass out and he will straighten out this mess. Worst case? More debt…no problem.
    Also remember that when Dan was a mayor he spoke like a mayor. Now that he is almost a God who deals only with BIG IDEAS (all caps) we can’t even speak his language! While Demi-God Dan has appointed a lot of horses asses he has not yet appointed a horse to an office (like Caligula), but give him time.
    Yes! Connecticut has its own crazy emperor now!

  • Mary Gallucci

    It is offensive that Malloy would dare suggest that his retrograde school reform bill was designed to close the achievement gap and to create a more level educational playing field. Teacher evaluations, incessant standardized testing, privatization, closing school, etc, etc–these are some of Malloy’s “answers” to the unequal schools that exist in the state of Connecticut. I really hope that the judge does not buy it. We’ve also witnessed recently how committed Malloy is to school desegregation–17 years after Sheff, 5 years after a settlement, and several percentage points off a minimum target, all Malloy can say is “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” He thinks we are integrated enough, thank you.