Fellow public school advocate and columnist Wendy Lecker has written yet another “must read” column for the Stamford Advocate.
While candidate “Dan” Malloy ran on a platform of supporting public education, Governor “Dannel” Malloy has pushed an agenda that has systematically undermined Connecticut’s public schools. Rather than solve Connecticut’s unconstitutional school funding formula, as he promised, Malloy has repeatedly worked to destroy the very lawsuit that he helped bring on behalf of Connecticut’s students, parents, teachers and taxpayers.
His education “reform initiative” is the most anti-teacher, anti-union, anti-local control legislation of any Democratic governor in the nation.
And his Commissioner of Education has so mismanaged the Connecticut Department of Education that a significant number of school superintendents are actually talking about a vote of no confidence in Commissioner Stefan Pryor.
With that as the background, Wendy Lecker has written a piece appropriately entitled, “Malloy can tell it to the judge.”
In it she writes:
Connecticut recently was treated to two contradictory pictures of education in our state: one was fantasy and the other, reality. The magical thinking was provided by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy at a speech at the conservative think tank, the American Enterprise Institute on Dec. 2. There, he trumpeted the success of his 2012 education “reform legislation.” Two days later, Judge Kevin Dubay of Connecticut Superior Court provided a dose of reality about Malloy’s grand, but empty, pronouncements, in his decision to deny Malloy’s motion to dismiss the CCJEF v. Rell school funding suit.
At his AEI speech, Malloy shockingly dismissed the need to provide all children with educational opportunities as “old rhetoric.” His focus is not on educational opportunity, he claimed, but rather “educational success.” Malloy trumpeted his 2012 education “reform” legislation as providing the path to educational success.
Contrary to Malloy’s contention, educational opportunity is not just “old rhetoric.” The concept of educational opportunity has a specific constitutional meaning in Connecticut. Under our constitution, Connecticut must provide all children with “suitable educational opportunities.” Connecticut’s highest court has defined those opportunities as schools with sufficient resources to provide an education that prepares Connecticut’s children to participate in democratic institutions, attain productive employment and otherwise to contribute to the state’s economy, or to progress on to higher education.
As mayor of Stamford, Malloy understood the constitutional significance of educational opportunity. He was a founding member of the CCJEF coalition and one of the original plaintiffs in the suit demanding the state fulfill its legal obligation to provide fair and adequate funding to all Connecticut public schools.
However, as governor, Malloy would like to pretend that Connecticut’s children can achieve academic success while he deprives them and their schools of the basic educational resources necessary to provide constitutionally required educational opportunity. Indeed, the governor’s faulty approach was the linchpin of his most recent failed attempt to get rid of the CCJEF case.
In his motion to dismiss the CCJEF case, Malloy claimed there was no need to continue with this case because his 2012 education reforms cured all the constitutional deficiencies in Connecticut’s educational system. The judge disabused the governor of the fantasy that his reforms have actually improved Connecticut’s schools. He ruled that Malloy and the state presented no evidence to prove that his 2012 reforms were enacted to correct the constitutional inadequacies of Connecticut’s educational system or state school funding.
Malloy’s 2012 education legislation was not designed to provide Connecticut’s children with equal educational opportunity. As he admitted in his AEI speech, educational opportunity is no longer the governor’s focus. He would rather push unproven “reforms” that bear no relationship to what our highest court and our constitution recognize that our children need.
Another incredible claim made by Malloy at the AEI appearance was that his 2012 education legislation, for the first time in Connecticut history, directed copious amounts of money to Connecticut’s neediest districts.
A few hard numbers may help bring Malloy back to this planet. According to CCJEF’s expert’s analysis, updated to 2012 dollars, East Hartford’s school district is owed $6,131 per child in state funding. Malloy’s 2012 legislation gave them an increase of $214 per pupil. Bridgeport’s school district is owed $7,505 per child, but only received an increase of $209 per pupil in the 2012 legislation. The state owes New Britain’s children $10,185 per student. The 2012 legislation provided them with a whopping $245 per pupil increase. The list goes on and on. Moreover, as a condition for each tiny increase in ECS funding, these districts were saddled with costly mandates.
By contrast, charter schools, which educate 1 percent of Connecticut’s public school children and 90 percent of which serve a less needy population than their host districts, received an increase of $2,600 per pupil over three years in the 2012 legislation. Diverting state funding to 1 percent of public school children, who are often not the neediest, is likely to increase educational resource inequity in the state, especially when our neediest schools are getting so little.
The governor’s empty political posturing about the success of his education reforms may work at think tanks in Washington. However, here in the Constitution state, facts matter, and Judge Dubay made clear that, so far, Malloy has failed to provide any. The judge ordered that the CCJEF case proceed to trial where, one way or another, Malloy will have to put his money where his mouth is.
You can read Wendy Lecker’s column here: Lecker: Malloy can tell it to the judge