Special Ed. Irony: CT Gov. Malloy and Judge Thomas G. Moukawsher by Nancy Bailey

Nancy Bailey is an educator, author, expert on children with emotional and behavioral disabilities and autism and a fellow education blogger.  In her latest commentary piece, Special Ed. Irony: CT Gov. Malloy and Judge Thomas G. Moukawsher, she explores the recent controversial school funding decision in Connecticut.

Nancy Bailey writes;

In every state we see an erasing of services for students with disabilities. Consider how Texas managed to omit an appropriate education for students with special needs My guess is that in whatever state you live, special education is in trouble.

How many children will not get the schooling they need to realize their dreams? How many parents will not get the support required to assist their children the best way possible?

In Connecticut, Judge Thomas G. Moukawsher has ruled in a decades old school funding case, and while he recognized problems that exist when it comes to school funding and poverty, he slammed public schools badly. The expected changes to schooling and for teachers is worrisome.

But the Judge’s statement about instruction of the profoundly disabled was especially egregious. His statement calling the funding of special education “irrational,” should raise concerns for everyone.

In discussing Connecticut, not long after I started tweeting (Twitter is still a bit of a mystery to me), CT Gov. Dannel P. Malloy started following me on Twitter. He is seen as a school reformer. He supports charter schools and other troubling reforms in that state. Here, Judge Moukawsher’s decision is discussed with Gov. Malloy’s input.

I am sorry the Governor is not a bigger proponent of public schools and professional teachers. And I still don’t know why he followed me on Twitter–maybe because I write about special ed. issues–maybe it was a mistake. But I did learn some interesting things about the Governor.

Gov. Malloy has spoken and written poignantly about the difficulties he faced as a child and how he overcame dyslexia. He still uses all kinds of adaptations to adjust in his work. It is inspirational to read about the challenges he overcame to be successful.

Also, while Gov. Malloy may support a lot of troubling school reforms, the State of Connecticut seems to have looked out for its special needs school population and early childhood education. He has attempted to fairly fund special education in that state. For this he should receive credit. Although, some argue more funding is required.

But I wonder how, in such a state with such a governor, can Judge Moukawsher say what he did about special education. One would think because of Gov. Malloy, all of Connecticut’s citizens would stand in unanimous support and champion the needs of its special needs population.

Here is what Judge Moukawsher said about special education. It comes from Jonathan Pelto’s blog (more can be found elsewhere too–see below). Jonathan is a champion for students in Connecticut (and the country) and is running as a Green Party candidate for Congress. He also notes that Connecticut has done pretty well when it comes to special ed.

Here are the words of Judge Moukawsher.

Yet school officials never consider the possibility that the education appropriate for some students may be extremely limited because they are too profoundly disabled to get any benefit from an elementary or secondary school education….It is about whether schools can decide in an education plan for a covered child that the child has a minimal or no chance for education, and therefore the school should not make expensive, extensive, and ultimately pro-forma efforts..

That statement is appalling!

At this point in time, no one should have to argue that schooling is important for all children. Americans should realize that, after years of legislation and special education advocacy, every child no matter the disability, can learn and deserves the right to a free public education!

I’d like to sit down with the Judge and describe the two years I spent teaching students with profound disabilities. It was there I learned the power of public schooling for everyone.

It doesn’t matter what level a child might be at when a teacher meets them. With appropriate understanding, every child can learn new skills which will help them lead a quality life. Schooling is critical for a child with profound disabilities.

I’d like to remind the Judge that by teaching children with profound disabilities they can usually live at home with their families, where they are not only treated like first class citizens—which they are—but where they are thoroughly enjoyed and loved as family members.

The Judge might visit these families who treasure their children for the beauty found within. Parents and siblings often adapt to different life, but they can find greater meaning than most people will ever know.

The Judge should ask how living could be made easier for these children and their families through great public schooling. Anything less is un-American.

Judge Moukawsher’s words are especially dangerous, because when you start judging who is and who is not fit to receive education services, sooner or later other disability groups will be pushed out too. Before you know it, students with dyslexia and reading problems will be denied schooling. And you never know what futures will be obliterated—maybe someone who could have one day become a Governor.

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Here are additional links concerning this important decision. I may add more.

Altimari, Daniela. “Superior Court Judge Raises Profile With Divisive Education Reform Ruling.” Hartford Courant. Sept. 19,2016. HERE.

Reid, Macklin. “Superior Court Judge Raises Profile With Divisive Education Reform Ruling.” Hartford Courant. Sept. 19, 2016. HERE.

To read and comment on Nancy Bailey’s complete article go to: http://nancyebailey.com/2016/09/20/special-ed-irony-ct-gov-malloy-and-judge-thomas-g-moukawsher/

Here are some additional links to media coverage of the case;

CCJEF V. RELL MEDIA COVERAGE

CT Mirror

9/7/16 – Judge strikes down state education aid choices as ‘irrational’

9/7/16 – Ruling may end ‘hold harmless’ principle in CT budget politics

9/12/16 – For David Rosen, 11 years in court just a beginning in school case (New Haven Independent)

9/13/16 – Malloy, a plaintiff and then a defendant, hedges on school appeal

9/15/16 Jepsen files appeal, says Moukawsher school ruling ‘legally unsupported’

Hartford Courant

9/7/16 – Court Orders Far-Reaching Reforms for Public Schools and   CCJEF Ruling Press Conference

9/8/16 – Legislature Must Draft A New Deal For CT Education

9/9/16 – Lawmakers Scramble To Craft Response To Judge’s Education Ruling

9/15/16 State Appeals Controversial Education Overhaul Decision

CT Newsjunkie

9/7/16 Judge Orders State To Make Sweeping Changes To Education Funding, Policies

9/15/16 State Appeals Education Ruling to Supreme Court

Stamford Advocate

9/11/16 – Wendy Lecker: Will equity without adequacy be enough to help Connecticut’s neediest children?

Connecticut Post

9/7/16 Judge says state’s school funding formula is irrational

9/9/16 –After ruling on school finding, officials ponder next step

9/15/16 – State to appeal decision on school funding

New York Times

9/7/16 Judge, Citing Inequality, Orders Connecticut to Overhaul Its School System

9/11/16 – In Connecticut, a Wealth Gap Divides Neighboring Schools

9/12/16 – A Holistic Ruling on Broken Schools

Links to the actual decision

Hartford Courant – http://www.courant.com/education/hc-read-ccjef-v-rell-20160907-htmlstory.html

CT Mirror – https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3100630-School-Funding-Decision.html

Judicial Department – http://jud.ct.gov/CCJEFvRell.pdf

 

Related Statements:

CEA CEA Leaders Respond to CCJEF v. Rell Decision

AFT – Comments on Court Decision in Historic State Education Funding Case

CCM – CCM INITIAL STATEMENT IN RESPONSE TO SUPERIOR COURT DECISION IN CCJEF V. RELL SCHOOL-FUNDING DECISION

Educators 4 Excellence – Educators 4 Excellence-Connecticut reacts to ruling of CCJEF v. Rell lawsuit

ConnCAN – CONNCAN ISSUES STATEMENT IN CCJEF COURT CASE

 

Commentary pieces:

Education Ruling: OK To Shut Out Disabled Kids?

Tell state officials: Don’t appeal CCJEF ruling

Did one Connecticut judge just change the conversation about education inequality?

The Aftermath Of The CCJEF Ruling: What Is Next For Public Education In Connecticut?

Judge correctly identified need for systemic public education overhaul

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