A blog post that highlights the problem (see the Part I) and starts to lay out the solution (see Part II.)
PART I: The problem
Malloy’s record on state funding of public schools.
Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy likes to brag that he has increased funding for Connecticut schools. While he did raise taxes, in part to increase funding for education, he fails to mention how he played favorites with those funds.
In fact, Malloy poured tens of millions of dollars into Connecticut’s privately-run charter schools while leaving the primary burden to pay for the costs of running Connecticut’s public schools on the backs of local property taxpayers.
EXAMPLE #1: Charter Schools vs. Public Schools:
The amount and percent change in funding as a result of Malloy’s budgets (in millions of dollars)
|Charter Schools||$ 53||$ 92||73.6%|
|ECS||$ 1,889||$ 2,039||7.9%|
Since Governor Malloy took control of the state budget, state funding for privately-run charter schools has increased by an incredible 73.6% [from $53 million to $92 million]. And that doesn’t even count the millions more in special grants and bonding funds that the Malloy administration has thrown at charter school companies like Achievement First Inc. and Jumoke Academy.
EXAMPLE #2: Failure to adequately fund Connecticut’s Public Schools while doctoring the Education Funding Formula.
And while Connecticut’s charter schools were wallowing in their 73.6% increase in taxpayer funds, Connecticut’s public school districts were provided with only a 7.9% increase in support over the four fiscal years that Malloy has controlled the state budget.
Malloy’s failure to provide adequate funding for Connecticut’s public schools is not only unconstitutional, but means that the burden of paying for public schools in Connecticut has shifted even more onto the backs of local property taxpayers.
Equally noteworthy is the way the Malloy administration was able to manipulate Connecticut’s school funding formula to benefit particular towns. While the Education Cost Sharing Formula is supposed to help poorer towns more than wealthier towns, even a cursory review of the change in funding reveals that some poorer towns “won” while others didn’t do so well.
What is also clear is that Malloy’s education funding policies have been particularly unfair to most of Connecticut’s middle income school districts.
The following chart highlights the change in state education funding for a cross-section of Connecticut towns since Malloy became governor.
|Stamford||$ 8.0||$ 10.6||32.5%|
|Hamden||$ 23.0||$ 27.0||17.4%|
|East Hartford||$ 42.0||$ 49.0||16.7%|
|New Britain||$ 74.0||$ 85.0||14.9%|
|West Hartford||$ 16.0||$ 18.2||13.8%|
|Manchester||$ 30.6||$ 34.5||12.7%|
|Bridgeport||$ 164.0||$ 180.0||9.8%|
|New Haven||$ 142.0||$ 154.6||8.9%|
|East Haven||$ 18.7||$ 20.0||7.0%|
|Hartford||$ 188.0||$ 201.0||6.9%|
|Glastonbury||$ 6.2||$ 6.6||6.5%|
|Wethersfield||$ 8.0||$ 8.5||6.3%|
|Rocky Hill||$ 3.4||$ 3.6||5.9%|
|Naugatuck||$ 29.2||$ 30.8||5.5%|
|Stratford||$ 20.5||$ 21.4||4.4%|
|Southington||$ 19.8||$ 20.4||3.0%|
|Plainville||$ 10.1||$ 10.4||3.0%|
|Torrington||$ 23.9||$ 24.6||2.9%|
|Watertown||$ 11.7||$ 12.0||2.6%|
|Wallingford||$ 21.4||$ 21.8||1.9%|
|Thomaston||$ 5.6||$ 5.7||1.8%|
|South Windsor||$ 12.8||$ 13.0||1.6%|
|Wolcott||$ 13.5||$ 13.7||1.5%|
|Plainfield||$ 15.4||$ 15.6||1.3%|
The candidates running for governor need to be asked – What are they going to do to properly fund Connecticut’s public schools?
- Hint: Candidates – Here is part of the answer:
Part II: The Solution to Connecticut’s School Finance Crisis:
Connecticut’s governor is the one who must be responsible for taking the lead in revamping Connecticut’s school funding system. The only true, honest and effective solution is to develop a funding system that reflects the real cost of delivering quality education for every child.
With the critical assessment in place, the Governor and the state of Connecticut must then take dramatic steps to improve the level of state resources going to local school districts. In that way, the state can ensure that there is real equity across districts lines and that all of Connecticut’s public schools have the resources necessary to provide the equal educational opportunities that are mandated by Connecticut’s constitution and required by a just society.
The truth is that school funding improvements are imperative for closing the unconscionable achievement gap and securing the kind of society and competitive workforce that all our residents need and deserve.
A 21st century school system cannot be achieved through the corporate education reform industry’s agenda of more standardized testing, the privatization of our public schools and the unwarranted and inappropriate attack on our public school teachers.
Instead it requires proper leadership and adequate funding. The lion’s share of responsibility for funding public schools in Connecticut must be shifted to the state level, where it constitutionally belongs. A primary benefit of this shift will be to significantly reduce our reliance on Connecticut’s regressive property tax system.
Revenue rebalancing that entails changing the way schools are funded means that all tax/revenue streams will have to be reexamined through the lens of equity, adequacy, and sustainability.
The burden can no longer be unfairly shouldered by struggling middle income and working family homeowners, senior citizens, or others living on modest, fixed incomes.
Rather the burden must be fairly shared by all sectors of the State’s economy, including the wealthy who are simply not paying their fair share.
The critically important CCJEF v. Rell school finance lawsuit, scheduled to go to trial after the election, would accomplish all these goals. The solutions outlined in the CCJEF lawsuit are the very solutions that will ensure that Connecticut can provide all of its children with the knowledge, skills and training they will need to live more fulfilling lives.
Rather than fighting Connecticut’s schools, students, parents, teachers and property taxpayers in the courtroom, Governor Malloy (and Attorney General George Jepsen) should have settled the CCJEF case and used that coalition’s expertise to help fix the broken school funding system.
The voters of Connecticut can now do what Governor Malloy refused to do.
The voters can pick a candidate for Governor who commits to settling the CCJEF lawsuit because that will be the candidate who understands what must really be done to properly fund our public schools and put Connecticut back on track.