Connecticut’s existing school funding formula is unfair, inappropriate and unconstitutional. It leaves Connecticut’s public schools without the resources they need and places an unfair burden on Connecticut’s middle income families.
The CCJEF v. Rell lawsuit, which should have been called the CCJEF v. Malloy suit, made the problem extremely clear.
The time has come to return to the fundamental principles that served as the underpinning of the Educational Cost Sharing (ECS) Formula before it was gutted by Governor Malloy and previous Connecticut governors and legislatures.
However, rather than step up and address the major flaws with the existing failed funding system, Governor Dannel Malloy made a thinly veiled reference today, in his State of the State Address, that he plans to propose a new state education funding formula, one that would likely pump even more scarce public funds to Connecticut’s privately owned and operated charter schools.
In addition, Malloy appears poised to suggest that any increase in education funding be restricted to only the poorest communities and that it come with strict new red tape and mandates, a move that will make it even more difficult for local school boards to provide students with the educational opportunities they need and deserve.
Since taking office in 2011, Governor Malloy has failed to adequately fund Connecticut’s real public schools, which in turn has translated to reduced programs and higher local property taxes – not only in Connecticut’s 30 poorest towns, but in communities across the state.
Compounding the problem, Malloy has successfully diverted more than $100 million dollars a year to Connecticut’s privately owned charter schools, despite the fact that these private companies fail to accept and educate their fair share of students who require special education services, those who need help learning the English language and those who have disciplinary issues.
Now as his time in office is coming to an end, Malloy appears unwilling to truly address the fact all public schools, not just those in the poorest districts, need additional state aid.
Instead Malloy’s speech today suggests that he is laying the ground work to further privatize public education, while saddling poorer cities and towns with even more mandates, rules and regulations.
Malloy’s flowery, but hollow, words today included the following;
“Connecticut needs a new way to calculate educational aid—one that guarantees equal access to a quality education regardless of zip code”
It will be based on the local property tax burden, student need, and current enrollment.
The system will be designed to be more fair, transparent, accountable, and adaptable—meaning that it will provide flexibility to fit the needs of a given community.
The result will be a fairer distribution of our state’s limited funds.
And if we are successful in this effort, there will be an important ancillary benefit—we can help ensure that no Connecticut city or town will need to explore the avoidable path of bankruptcy.
To be clear, that kind of help shouldn’t come without strings attached. If the state is going to play a more active role in helping less-affluent communities—in helping higher-taxed communities—part of that role will be holding local political leadership and stakeholders to substantially higher standards and greater accountability than they’ve been held to in the past. We should do it so that increased aid doesn’t simply mean more spending on local government.
Stay tuned for what Malloy will really propose when he issues his budget next month.
You can read Malloy’s full speech here – Malloy State of the State address