Hartford Courant columnist, blogger, lawyer and former legislator, Kevin Rennie, has a MUST READ commentary piece in the Hartford Courant today about Judge Moukawsher’s outrageous and mean-spirited attack on Connecticut children who require special education services.
Reposted below, you can read and comment on Kevin Rennie’s piece at: http://www.courant.com/opinion/op-ed/hc-op-rennie-ct-school-moukawsher-disabled-0918-20160915-column.html
Kevin Rennie writes;
Compassion has been declared unconstitutional by a Superior Court judge. Our leaders refuse to condemn his brutal assault on those with disabilities. Delusions rule as Connecticut enters an age of shame.
Thomas Moukawsher, a judge, Malloy appointee and former Democratic organization foot soldier, read his meandering, sloppy decision on public school funding on Sept. 7. Then, otherwise comprehending people seemed not to understand what they had heard. The plaintiffs, a coalition of municipalities and education organizations, had sued for billions in new state spending but did not get it. They nevertheless declared victory.
Disclosure: I knew Moukawsher well when he was a banking lobbyist, during his one term in the legislature and for several years after that. I have not spoken to him in nearly 20 years.
The organizations in the coalition have maintained an indecent silence on what the decision says about providing an education for 15 percent to 17 percent of public school students with special needs. The reader will struggle to find an island of thought in the decision’s sea of bilge, but there is one on the subject of people with disabilities: It is irrational and unconstitutional, Moukawsher declaimed from the bench, to continue to provide an eduction for many of them.
The 20th century taught us that when societies turn on people with disabilities, they often do not stop there. They inflict misery on others and everlasting shame on themselves. Connecticut must not join them in the darkness.
If you want to know what an attack on freedom under the rule of law looks like, peruse the education funding decision. Special education was not an issue the plaintiffs raised. The attorney general, defending the state, warned Moukawsher off the issue in a trial brief, but to no avail. Children with disabilities were in his sights and he fired away. Children with more than one disability receive particularly cruel attention.
Schools under this misbegotten decision will have no obligation to educate children with disabilities they deem to have “a minimal or no chance for education.” This insidious missile cannot go unanswered in the Constitution State. There are no specifics on how or which children with special needs are to be denied access to our schools. What we do know is that a judge with a dark, Trumpian view of humanity is abusing his authority and inviting broad violation of federal protections.
Harry Truman explained America’s greatness in a sentence: “We believe in the dignity of man.” Not in Connecticut if this social Darwinian decision is allowed to stand. Consider the implications. The law requires us to educate children who arrived here illegally. Most of us have no quarrel with that. Do we want, however, to live in a state where illegal immigrants are welcomed to our schools but the disabled are barred at the door?
The heroic Helen Keller observed, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” That describes the Moukawsher decision. I mention Helen Keller because, when she was 19 months old, she lost her hearing and sight to what was probably meningitis. A teacher, Anne Sullivan, led Miss Keller out of the darkness with their unique system of spelling words with their hands.
Helen Keller with her multiple disabilities went on to graduate from Radcliffe College. Through her writing, advocacy and love of humanity, Miss Keller became one of the world’s most admired people. Our own Mark Twain, one of her most devoted admirers, said, “She is fellow to Caesar, Alexander, Napoleon, Homer, Shakespeare and the rest of the immortals.”
There would be no place for Helen Keller in Moukawsher’s Connecticut, other than in the shadows of isolation. The court opinion misses an essential benefit of special education that is bestowed on the other students. Their contact with students with disabilities provides daily lessons in Harry Truman’s dignity of man. Lessons that last a lifetime and lift our society.
It should not be too much to expect a judge to understand that. But Moukawsher’s poisonous elitism reveals him as bent on banishing thousands of disabled from our public education system and consigning them to undisclosed, likely isolated, locations. Is this anyone’s, other than one judge’s, idea of what 21st-century Connecticut should be?