Connecticut Mirror, March 22, 2010;
“The state Supreme Court [ruled] that Connecticut schoolchildren are guaranteed an adequate standard of quality in their public schools — a crucial legal victory for a coalition seeking to force a dramatic increase in state spending on education.”
Connecticut Mirror, April 10, 2013:
“State moves to dismiss long-standing challenge to education funding
Calling their demands “extreme and radical” as a trial draws nearer, the Connecticut attorney general has asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit filed by parents and educators demanding more funding for education.
In a motion to dismiss filed earlier this year, Attorney General George C. Jepsen argues that the education problems in the complaint dating back to 2003 have since been addressed by lawmakers through the changes to state law made in 2012.”
So there you have it. Democrat Attorney General, George Jepsen, calling the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education funding (CCJEF), “extreme and radical.”
Democratic Attorney General, telling the CT Mirror’s Jacqueline Rabe Thomas, that, “’It is too late to evaluate the adequacy of the education system that existed at the time the lawsuit was filed’…By the same token, he added, ‘It is too early to adjudicate Connecticut’s newly reformed education system.’”
However, despite Jepsen’s outrageous comments, everyone associated with Connecticut public education recognizes that the State’s ECS funding formula is at least $2 billion under-funded. Even the Malloy Administration’s own budget director, Ben Barnes, has confirmed that number.
Even more to the point, as a Connecticut State Representative, State Senator and candidate for Governor, George Jepsen, like all major Democratic leaders, pledged to increase Connecticut’s education funding up to a level in which the state paid at least 50% of the total costs of primary and secondary education, while local property tax payers were left paying the remaining amount.
In fact, the decision to adopt an income tax was driven, in no small part, by the commitment Democrats made to shift the responsibility for funding education away from local property taxpayers and onto the state.
Now, more than 20 years later, Connecticut is far where it needs to be when it comes to adequately funding its public education system.
And now, leaders like Governor Malloy and Attorney General Jepsen are conveniently forgetting the promises they made time and time again.
As Wait, What? readers read last week, Governor Malloy was not only a supporter of the CCEJF school funding lawsuit, he was one of the initial plaintiffs in the case.
In the earlier Wait, What? post entitled, “The Dan to Dannel transformation on the most important education lawsuit in Connecticut history,” we reviewed how candidate Dan Malloy approached the most important education lawsuit of our lifetime.
That approach included a November 22, 2005 press release by Stamford Mayor and Gubernatorial Candidate Dan Malloy entitled “Malloy Supports Lawsuit Challenging Education Funding System…says that reforming the education funding system is an issue of ‘fundamental fairness.’”
As a candidate seeking votes, Malloy’s gubernatorial campaign wrote, “Stamford Mayor and Gubernatorial Candidate Dan Malloy joined fellow members of the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding [CCJEF] today in filing a lawsuit challenging Connecticut’s existing school funding formula as inadequate. Malloy is a founding member of CCJEF coalition, which commissioned a June 2005 cost study demonstrating that 92 of Connecticut’s 166 school districts fell short of funding levels deemed to be necessary for providing children with an adequate education, as demanded under Federal and State law.”
Malloy’s press release quoted him as saying, “The bottom line is that Connecticut’s Education Cost Sharing [ECS] Formula should be scrapped and rebuilt and the State of Connecticut must finally live up to its obligation and pay its share of our education costs. The existing ECS formula has been deliberately under-funded and arbitrarily capped. This isn’t an urban versus suburban issue or a big government versus small government issue; it’s an issue of fundamental fairness. Every child in Connecticut deserves the opportunity to get an adequate education. Our constitution demands it.”
Over the years, George Jepsen claimed to be equally committed to a fairer, more equitable school funding program. But now, as Connecticut’s Attorney General, Jepsen is asking the courts to dismiss this historic and fundamentally important lawsuit.
Instead of standing up to ensure Connecticut’s Constitution is followed, Jepsen is maneuvering to try to keep the judicial branch of government from playing the very role it was created to do.
In the recent motion to dismiss the case Jepsen wrote, “The bottom line is that plaintiffs’ extreme and radical requested relief would amount to taking the state’s funding decisions for public schools away from the citizens’ elected representatives…”
That statement is totally and absolutely untrue.
It is beyond untrue, it is an outright lie.
No one is expected the Connecticut courts to eliminate the role of the Connecticut General Assembly, and Attorney General Jepson knows that better than anyone.
The fact is that the Connecticut Supreme Court has ruled that Connecticut’s children have a Constitutional right to a quality education.
A series of Connecticut governors and Legislatures have refused to provide the funding necessary to fulfill that Constitutional requirement.
The lawsuit is a necessary and appropriate mechanism to ask the courts to require that governors and legislatures actually stop ducking their constitutional responsibilities
It is one thing for Attorney General Jepsen to argue that the state doesn’t want to provide sufficient funding; it would even be plausible for Attorney General Jepsen to argue that the existing funding is enough to provide a quality education, but it is beyond outrageous that any elected official, especially a Democrat, would claim that his lawsuit is radical or extreme.
By clicking the link below, you can read the full CTMIrror story, including the powerful and persuasive counter-argument to Attorney General Jepsen’ that is being put forward by State Representative Gary Holder-Winfield. Unfortunately, a full reading of the article will drive home the appreciation that for some politicians, there is simply no limit to their willingness to say anything in their effort to stretch and twist the truth.
The complete CTMirror story is here: http://ctmirror.org/story/19681/were-education-reforms-passed-enough-derail-school-funding-lawsuit