Hey Malloy, Wyman and Jepsen – Connecticut children have a Constitutional Right to a quality education!

Six years ago the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in the case of CCJEF v. Rell that Connecticut’s State Constitution REQUIRES that all public school students have the fundamental right to “an effective and meaningful (quality, adequate) education, the standard for which is “dynamic” and dependent on the “demands of an evolving world.”

Connecticut’s Supreme Court then sent the case to a trial judge to determine what the State of Connecticut must do to meet that standard.

However, for the past six years Governor Dannel Malloy, Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, Attorney General George Jepsen and the Malloy administration have fought to derail, destroy or dismiss this incredibly important lawsuit.

Instead of stepping up to fulfill their legal duty to the children of Connecticut, these “Democratic” politicians have devoted a massive amount of taxpayer resources in an immoral attempt to prevent Connecticut’s children (and Connecticut’s local property taxpayers) from having their “day in court.”

Despite Malloy, Wyman and Jepsen’s best efforts, the CCJEF V. RELL trial begins today.  (See CT Newsjunkie Trial on Landmark Education Funding Lawsuit Begins)

As CCJEF explained in a recent press release;

(Hartford, CT)—The landmark CCJEF v. Rell education adequacy and equity case goes to trial before the Hartford Superior Court beginning Tuesday, January 12, 2016.

At issue in the case is whether the State’s public education finance system meets the adequacy and equity standards required by the Connecticut Constitution (PROPOSED STATEMENT OF FACTS, Plaintiffs’ Preliminary Findings of Facts and Conclusions of Law, January 5. 2016).

“The journey on this long and winding judicial road has taken nearly 11 years, but now Connecticut’s schoolchildren will have their day in court,” said Herbert C. Rosenthal, CCJEF President.  “The outcome of this historic case will have profound impacts on how public education services are delivered and funded for generations to come.  It is time to acknowledge that the education finance system in our state is broken and needs to be fixed.” said Rosenthal.

CCJEF (www.ccjef.org) is dedicating our trial efforts to the memory of Dr. Dianne Kaplan deVries, CCJEF founder and long-time project director, who passed away on October 11, 2015.

CCJEF, established in 2004, is a broad-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit that seeks to achieve an adequately and equitably funded PreK-12 public education system that is based on the learning needs of students and the real costs of delivering high-quality education in every community.

In 2005, CCJEF and several named school children and their parents filed suit against the State of Connecticut (CCJEF v. Rell) for its failure to meet its constitutional obligation to adequately and equitably fund the public schools. In a 2010 pretrial ruling, the Connecticut Supreme Court affirmed the State’s constitutional obligation and remanded the case back to the trial court for full trial on the merits of Plaintiffs’ adequacy and equity claims.

As noted, additional details about CCJEF’s position can be found in the PROPOSED STATEMENT OF FACTS, while Malloy/Wyman/Jepsen’s warped version of the education funding issue can be found via State of Connecticut Position.

As the recent CCJEF press release explains, Dianne Kaplan deVries served as The Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding’s Project Director until her recent death. 

Diane Kaplain deVries was a tireless advocate for Connecticut’s public school children and wrote multiple commentary pieces about the school funding issue which were published at CT Newsjunkie.

In a March 11, 2013 CT Newsjunkie column entitled, Fighting Children in the Courtroom, Diane Kaplan deVries framed the growing frustration with the way Malloy and his people sought to undermine public education in Connecticut.

A 2010 Connecticut Supreme Court pretrial ruling says that public school children have a constitutional right to a quality (adequate) education and the state must pay for it. That’s surely inconvenient for a state with a budget in the red. No wonder lawyers for both sides are bumping heads as the case inches forward to trial, currently scheduled for July 2014.

It appears from the motions filed in late January by the state in the Connecticut Coalition of Justice In Education Funding v. Rell lawsuit that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a former prosecutor, would prefer to fight schoolchildren in the courtroom than to sit down with plaintiffs and realistically consider the state’s options.

The state filed two motions with the trial court. One seeks to dismiss the case because it is either moot or not yet ripe for trial, and for a second time since the case was filed, also seeks to remove the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding as a plaintiff.  This newest challenge to the coalition’s associational standing hinges primarily on the large number of school districts and municipalities that are members—creations of the state which are not ordinarily able to bring suit against it. The second motion asks the court to modify the scheduling order that sets deadlines for steps leading to trial.

In support of its motion to dismiss, the state appended some 410 pages of documents. These primarily consist of copies of the 2012 legislation, various State Department of Education compilations, and affidavits from state Department of Education Chief Financial Officer Brian MahoneyEducation Commissioner Stefan Pryor, and a consultant from Hawaii, Richard Seder.

Arguments raised by the state relating to mootness are that the CCJEF complaint describes education deficiencies that some children may have experienced in 2005. However, thanks to the education reform legislation enacted by last year’s legislature it has “dramatically and comprehensively altered the public education system the plaintiffs ask this court to declare unconstitutional” (p. 2, Motion to Modify Scheduling) The state also claims that the funding that accompanied those reforms, laid out in the Mahoney affidavit, was substantial.

Perhaps hedging bets on which argument may resonate more with the court, the state simultaneously argues against the ripeness of plaintiffs’ claims, maintaining that it is too soon for this case to come to trial because there needs to be sufficient time for those 2012 education reforms to produce a measurable effect.

Undaunted by the state’s positions, CCJEF counsel fired back a reply brief with 329 pages of exhibits. Countering the affidavits attached to the state’s brief is the affidavit of Rutgers Professor Bruce Baker, one of the nation’s leading school finance experts. (For those with less reading time available, his recent blog posting on SchoolFinance101 makes use of some key scattergrams from his CCJEF reply brief affidavit.)

Baker’s analysis of the 2012 education reform legislation differs vastly from the views presented in the state’s filings. Highlights are as follows:

  • Changes in funding for the Education Cost Sharing (ECS) grant for 2012-13 are trivial, even for the Alliance Districts, which saw increases mostly less than $200 per pupil and under 2 percent.  Fiscal analyses reinforce rather than negate plaintiffs’ claims of underfunding of the ECS formula and its inequitable distribution of state aid.  Moreover, increased funding to charters that already outspend host districts (after adjusting for student need) and serve lower-need student populations exacerbates rather than moderates disparities in opportunity.
  • Nominal changes to various state policies enacted in 2012 produce no change to the distribution of educational opportunity (equity) and provide no measurable additional resources (adequacy).  Nor is it likely that they could in future years.  Moreover, the funds attached to the policy changes, aside from being trivial, are not guaranteed (as was evidenced in December by the Governor’s rescissions, followed shortly thereafter by the legislature’s deficit mitigation cuts).
  • The 2012 policy changes mainly add structures that label the successes and failures of districts, schools, and teachers — labels that come with an increased threat of state intervention and a reduction of local control that may adversely affect local property values, accelerating the downward spiral of communities already in long-term economic and educational decline.  Absent the provision of equitable and adequate resources, such policy changes may disrupt local governance and involvement in the schools and force upon local districts new costs and spending requirements.
  • The state’s claims of improvements to be gained through mandated changes to teacher evaluation as a policy lever for redistributing (positively) educational opportunities for schoolchildren are without foundation or supporting evidence.  To suggest that changes to teacher evaluation alone would improve the equity and adequacy of the teacher workforce — regardless of resources — ignores the increased job insecurity and absence of increased wages or benefits that counterbalance the risk.  New teacher evaluation schemes also come with substantial up-front costs that are not addressed with additional state aid to school districts.
  • Educational adequacy and equal educational opportunity should not be reserved for a tiny portion of schools (Commissioner’s Network) or districts (Alliance Districts).  Adequate funding should not sunset, nor should it be at the discretion of a single political appointee.

In addition to the expert opinion, legal arguments pertaining to mootness and ripeness, as well as a strong defense of CCJEF’s legitimate standing in the case,the reply brief was offered by counsel for the plaintiffs, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP (New York), with assistance from the Yale Law School Education Adequacy Clinic, both of which serve pro bono in this action.

Constitutional challenges on behalf of schoolchildren’s rights are among the most complex cases any court can hear. They are also among the most challenging cases to be brought or defended against. That said, it is difficult to fault the state for doing what defense lawyers do:  they file motions aimed at making the case go away.

However, the state’s motion to dismiss raises concerns, even incredulity, about any perception that at the 11th hour, Malloy successfully pushed through legislation that negates (or soon will) the decades of harmful neglect and deprivation of resources by the state of its public school system. Could anyone truly imagine that those 2012 reforms, together with whatever initiatives and meager funding may come out of the 2013 legislature, are sufficient for affixing the “Mission Accomplished” banner outside the Capitol complex, proclaiming that the state at long last is meeting its constitutional obligation to schoolchildren?

You can read the original piece at: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/op-ed_fighting_children_in_the_courtroom/

Connecticut’s historic school funding trial finally begins this week

As Connecticut education advocate and columnist, Wendy Lecker, reports in her latest commentary piece in the Stamford Advocate, Connecticut’s children finally get day in court.

Of the many disappointments that have arisen since Governor Dannel Malloy and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman were sworn in to office in January 2011, few, if any, is greater than their immoral efforts to dismiss, derail and delay what may be the most important Connecticut court case in our lifetime – the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (“CCJEF”) v. Rell School Funding Lawsuit.

The truth is that Connecticut’s school funding formula is not only illegal, it is unconstitutional. 

Inadequate funding is robbing Connecticut’s public schoolchildren of their constitutional right to a quality education, while placing an unfair burden on Connecticut’s local property taxpayers.

A new funding formula is needed.  But Connecticut politicians lack the will to adopt one, so the responsibility to act has fallen on the courts.

Despite having been supporters of the lawsuits prior to taking office, Malloy, Wyman and Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen have wasted five years and massive amounts of taxpayer funds trying to stop Connecticut’s judicial branch from even hearing the critically important court case.

As mayor of Stamford, Dan Malloy was actually one of the original sponsors and plaintiffs of the CCJEF V. Rell School Funding lawsuit.

Running for office in 2010, Dan Malloy bragged about his role in pushing the CCJEF lawsuit, telling the Hartford Courant on March 23, 2010;

“I think in the long run it is very important to the state of Connecticut,” said Malloy, who was among the group that launched the coalition that brought the lawsuit. “I began these efforts years ago because I firmly believed that the state was not honoring its constitutional requirement and the funding formula for education in poor and urban communities was not fair to those communities.”

Nancy Wyman and George Jepsen were also strong advocates for addressing Connecticut’s unconstitutional school funding system.

And then, when they were finally in a position to make a real difference, these three “leaders” turned their backs on Connecticut’s students, parents, teachers, schools and taxpayers.

While the Malloy, Wyman and Jepsen were able to delay the day of reckoning, the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (“CCJEF”) v. Rell school funding lawsuit is finally set to begin on January 12, 2016 in a Hartford courtroom.

Wendy Lecker explains;

On Jan. 12, Connecticut’s school funding trial, Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (“CCJEF”) v. Rell, will finally begin. The plaintiffs include a statewide coalition of parents, municipalities, local boards of education, and organizations, and individual parents in districts across the state. They began the case in 2005. Since then, the state has waged a costly, failed crusade to keep the plaintiffs from having their day in court.

The plaintiffs claim that the state’s flawed school funding system provides inadequate resources to schools, thereby depriving Connecticut’s public school children of their rights under the Education Article of Connecticut’s constitution.

Under Connecticut’s Constitution, the state is responsible for providing children with a “suitable” public education. In 2010, when Connecticut’s Supreme Court denied the state’s first attempt to dismiss the case, it defined a “suitable” education as one that enables graduates to participate in democratic institutions, attain productive employment, or progress to higher education. The court ruled that the state must provide sufficient resources to enable students to obtain this level of education.

The CCJEF plaintiffs contend that for children to have a constitutionally “suitable” education, schools must have certain essential resources:

  • high quality preschool;
  • appropriate class size;
  • programs and services for at-risk students;
  • high quality administrators and teachers;
  • modern and adequate library facilities;
  • modern technology and appropriate instruction;
  • an adequate number of hours of instruction;
  • a rigorous curriculum with a wide breadth of courses;
  • modern and appropriate textbooks;
  • a healthy, safe, well-maintained school environment conducive to learning;
  • adequate special needs services;
  • appropriate career and academic counseling; and
  • suitably run extra-curricular activities

This list of essential resources is consistent with what courts across the nation deem necessary for a constitutionally adequate education.

In the state’s last attempt to dismiss the case, in 2013, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration claimed that its 2012 reforms, including yearly common core standardized testing of students, evaluating teachers by students’ standardized test scores and a system of ranking, shaming and punishing districts with low test scores, would solve all the state’s education woes.

This failed tactic was attempted by states in other school funding cases, such as Kansas. The Kansas court declared that relying on similar unproven reforms rather than adequate funding was “experimenting with our children (who) have no recourse from a failure of the experiment.”

The CCJEF court ruled that there is no evidence that Malloy’s reforms would redress the constitutional inadequacies and ordered that the state prove it at trial.

The state has known all along that the plaintiffs are right — that schools need the essential resources the CCJEF plaintiffs demand. In 2005, Connecticut’s top education official, Commissioner Betty Sternberg, wrote to then-Education Secretary Margaret Spellings and told her so.

In the letter, Commissioner Sternberg requested permission to continue testing children only in grades 4,6, 8 and 10. She stated that adding standardized tests in the other grades “will cost millions of dollars and will tell us nothing that we do not already know about our students’ achievement and what we must do to improve it.”

Sternberg maintained that high-needs schools needed support to improve and set forth proven strategies to improve education, including:

  • High quality preschool;
  • School based health centers/family resource centers;
  • Small class size;
  • Adequate support staff, such as nurses, social workers, psychologists, reading specialists and guidance counselors;
  • Incentives to retain experienced teachers;
  • Adequate technology, curriculum, supplies and professional development;
  • Adequate learning time;
  • Adequate space for learning.

In 2005, Connecticut’s top education official enumerated almost the exact same list of resources that the CCJEF plaintiffs seek. Moreover, Commissioner Sternberg maintained that these resources “are not a buffet,” but rather a “full-course meal.” “If we want to see significant improvement in student achievement, all of these areas should move ahead in concert,” she wrote.

Despite this admission by the state that schools need these essential resources, the state did nothing over the past 10 years to try to ensure every Connecticut school be properly equipped. Rather, the state chose to waste millions of taxpayer dollars in a futile attempt to keep the facts about its failure to fund schools from coming out in court. During that time, a generation of Connecticut children passed through the educational system deprived of basic educational resources they needed to succeed in school and life.

The governor, legislature and state education officials knowingly and repeatedly disregarded their duty to our children. One hopes that when the facts finally emerge, the court will grant our children the justice Connecticut politicians consistently denied them.

You can read and comment on Wendy Lecker’s column which first appeared in the Stamford Advocate at: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-Connecticut-s-children-finally-6745644.php

Connecticut’s historic school funding formula trial finally begins next week

As Connecticut education advocate and columnist, Wendy Lecker, reports in her latest commentary piece in the Stamford Advocate, Connecticut’s children finally get day in court.

Of the many disappointments that have arisen since Governor Dannel Malloy and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman were sworn in to office in January 2011, few, if any, is greater than their immoral efforts to dismiss, derail and delay what may be the most important Connecticut court case in our lifetime – the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (“CCJEF”) v. Rell School Funding Lawsuit.

The truth is that Connecticut’s school funding formula is not only illegal, it is unconstitutional. 

Inadequate funding is robbing Connecticut’s public schoolchildren of their constitutional right to a quality education, while placing an unfair burden on Connecticut’s local property taxpayers.

A new funding formula is needed.  But Connecticut politicians lack the will to adopt one, so the responsibility to act has fallen on the courts.

Despite having been supporters of the lawsuits prior to taking office, Malloy, Wyman and Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen have wasted five years and massive amounts of taxpayer funds trying to stop Connecticut’s judicial branch from even hearing the critically important court case.

As mayor of Stamford, Dan Malloy was actually one of the original sponsors and plaintiffs of the CCJEF V. Rell School Funding lawsuit.

Running for office in 2010, Dan Malloy bragged about his role in pushing the CCJEF lawsuit, telling the Hartford Courant on March 23, 2010;

“I think in the long run it is very important to the state of Connecticut,” said Malloy, who was among the group that launched the coalition that brought the lawsuit. “I began these efforts years ago because I firmly believed that the state was not honoring its constitutional requirement and the funding formula for education in poor and urban communities was not fair to those communities.”

Nancy Wyman and George Jepsen were also strong advocates for addressing Connecticut’s unconstitutional school funding system.

And then, when they were finally in a position to make a real difference, these three “leaders” turned their backs on Connecticut’s students, parents, teachers, schools and taxpayers.

While the Malloy, Wyman and Jepsen were able to delay the day of reckoning, the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (“CCJEF”) v. Rell school funding lawsuit is finally set to begin on January 12, 2016 in a Hartford courtroom.

Wendy Lecker explains;

On Jan. 12, Connecticut’s school funding trial, Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (“CCJEF”) v. Rell, will finally begin. The plaintiffs include a statewide coalition of parents, municipalities, local boards of education, and organizations, and individual parents in districts across the state. They began the case in 2005. Since then, the state has waged a costly, failed crusade to keep the plaintiffs from having their day in court.

The plaintiffs claim that the state’s flawed school funding system provides inadequate resources to schools, thereby depriving Connecticut’s public school children of their rights under the Education Article of Connecticut’s constitution.

Under Connecticut’s Constitution, the state is responsible for providing children with a “suitable” public education. In 2010, when Connecticut’s Supreme Court denied the state’s first attempt to dismiss the case, it defined a “suitable” education as one that enables graduates to participate in democratic institutions, attain productive employment, or progress to higher education. The court ruled that the state must provide sufficient resources to enable students to obtain this level of education.

The CCJEF plaintiffs contend that for children to have a constitutionally “suitable” education, schools must have certain essential resources:

  • high quality preschool;
  • appropriate class size;
  • programs and services for at-risk students;
  • high quality administrators and teachers;
  • modern and adequate library facilities;
  • modern technology and appropriate instruction;
  • an adequate number of hours of instruction;
  • a rigorous curriculum with a wide breadth of courses;
  • modern and appropriate textbooks;
  • a healthy, safe, well-maintained school environment conducive to learning;
  • adequate special needs services;
  • appropriate career and academic counseling; and
  • suitably run extra-curricular activities

This list of essential resources is consistent with what courts across the nation deem necessary for a constitutionally adequate education.

In the state’s last attempt to dismiss the case, in 2013, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration claimed that its 2012 reforms, including yearly common core standardized testing of students, evaluating teachers by students’ standardized test scores and a system of ranking, shaming and punishing districts with low test scores, would solve all the state’s education woes.

This failed tactic was attempted by states in other school funding cases, such as Kansas. The Kansas court declared that relying on similar unproven reforms rather than adequate funding was “experimenting with our children (who) have no recourse from a failure of the experiment.”

The CCJEF court ruled that there is no evidence that Malloy’s reforms would redress the constitutional inadequacies and ordered that the state prove it at trial.

The state has known all along that the plaintiffs are right — that schools need the essential resources the CCJEF plaintiffs demand. In 2005, Connecticut’s top education official, Commissioner Betty Sternberg, wrote to then-Education Secretary Margaret Spellings and told her so.

In the letter, Commissioner Sternberg requested permission to continue testing children only in grades 4,6, 8 and 10. She stated that adding standardized tests in the other grades “will cost millions of dollars and will tell us nothing that we do not already know about our students’ achievement and what we must do to improve it.”

Sternberg maintained that high-needs schools needed support to improve and set forth proven strategies to improve education, including:

  • High quality preschool;
  • School based health centers/family resource centers;
  • Small class size;
  • Adequate support staff, such as nurses, social workers, psychologists, reading specialists and guidance counselors;
  • Incentives to retain experienced teachers;
  • Adequate technology, curriculum, supplies and professional development;
  • Adequate learning time;
  • Adequate space for learning.

In 2005, Connecticut’s top education official enumerated almost the exact same list of resources that the CCJEF plaintiffs seek. Moreover, Commissioner Sternberg maintained that these resources “are not a buffet,” but rather a “full-course meal.” “If we want to see significant improvement in student achievement, all of these areas should move ahead in concert,” she wrote.

Despite this admission by the state that schools need these essential resources, the state did nothing over the past 10 years to try to ensure every Connecticut school be properly equipped. Rather, the state chose to waste millions of taxpayer dollars in a futile attempt to keep the facts about its failure to fund schools from coming out in court. During that time, a generation of Connecticut children passed through the educational system deprived of basic educational resources they needed to succeed in school and life.

The governor, legislature and state education officials knowingly and repeatedly disregarded their duty to our children. One hopes that when the facts finally emerge, the court will grant our children the justice Connecticut politicians consistently denied them.

You can read and comment on Wendy Lecker’s column which first appeared in the Stamford Advocate at: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-Connecticut-s-children-finally-6745644.php

Malloy Admin- Drops $2 million on consulting firm to micro-manage Alliance Districts then blames districts for program’s failures.

Here we go again…

Rather than properly fund Connecticut’s public schools, Governor Malloy has turned his back on the majority of Connecticut’s public schools and local property taxpayers by shifting almost all new state education funding to Connecticut’s so-called Alliance Districts.

Making matters far worse, rather than using the State Department of Education’s expert team of superintendents, principals and policy experts who had been working with Connecticut’s Priority Schools, Malloy’s first Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor,  laid off and reassigned these experienced Connecticut educators and handed their work over to Mass Insight, Inc., a politically-connected, out-of-state Corporate Education Reform consulting company.  Mass Insight then sent in a team of consultants, with little to no education experience, to manage the day to day work associated with the Alliance District and Turnaround Program.

And heading up the overall operation, which has spent more than $300 million in public funds, Commissioner Stefan Pryor recruited a school principal from Achievement First, Inc. the large charter school management company that Pryor co-founded.

Lacking the certification necessary to teach or work in a Connecticut school, Morgan Barth had already spent eight years illegally teaching and working at Achievement First, Inc.  However, Barth’s claim to fame was that he was a close relative of Richard Barth, the CEO of the massive KIPP Charter School chain who, in turn, is married to Wendy Koop, the founder of Teach for America.

When it comes to actually overseeing Malloy’s Alliance District program, Barth and Mass Insight’s track record has been abysmal, but that didn’t stop Mass Insight from collecting at least $1,957,960 in consulting fees and Barth finding the time to head out to Storrs to get his superintendent’s certification via one of the short-cut training programs at UConn’s NEAG School of Education.

Of course, not surprisingly, when Stefan Pryor bailed to take a job in Rhode Island, Malloy’s new Commissioner of Education, Dianna Wentzell, continued to use Mass Insight to run the Alliance District Program.

But despite the State Department of Education’s record of failure, or perhaps because of their record of mismanagement, Commissioner Wentzell is now blaming the Alliance Districts themselves for problems that have developed with the program, rather than the inexperienced, but highly paid consultants that she and her predecessor hired and coddled.

The Hartford Courant covers the new development in an article entitled, Some Struggling Districts Using State Grant For Unintended Purposes while the CT Mirror’s story is entitled, Schools redirecting money intended for reforms, officials say.

As the Courant reports,

“The board is aware of a couple of examples that have been brought to our attention of extreme misuse as a result of carryover,” Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell said. “This allows us to keep the Alliance District funds focused on the Alliance District plan.”

Extreme misuse?

Keep Alliance District funds focused on the Alliance District Plan?

Considering the way in which the out-of-state consultants coordinated the program, attacking the Alliance Districts is particularly revolting.

And let’s be clear, it’s not like Wentzell and her management team weren’t well aware of the problems associated with the way the Alliance District Program was being run because, as has been clear from the state, those problems started at the top and were a direct result of the policy decisions Pryor and Wentzell made.

The following 17 Wait, What. Blog posts are just a fraction of the reports about the way in which Mass Insight Inc. and the State Department of Education were managing the Alliance District program.

Connecticut legislators take note, before Malloy’s State Department of Education and State Board of Education start attacking Connecticut’s most challenged school districts, they should be required to come clean about myriad of problems that were caused by the way they “managed” the program.

The following are Wait, What? Posts on Connecticut’s Alliance District Program and the way in which Malloy’s own commissioners and consultants mismanaged and undermined the program. 

Mass Insight contract “magically extended” on its last day. Cost to taxpayers: $800,000 (2/3/14)

A plea to the public for help in tracking down the Malloy Administration’s effort to extend $1 million contract (1/28/14)

Pryor now using out-of-state company to recruit out-of-state school principals (12/23/13)

Are Alliance School Districts implementing their Turnaround Plans with “fidelity”? (12/4/13)

No Joke: Year 2 Alliance District “kickoff” tomorrow despite Pryor’s failure to get money to Alliance Districts (10/16/13)

Did Connecticut’s Director for School Turnaround illegally teach in the State of Connecticut? (10/8/13)

Malloy’s Education Commissioner prepares 2014 legislative agenda that increases his power and promotes charters (9/17/13)

Mass Insight swaps out more consultants: Further reducing experience for CT Alliance Districts (8/26/13)

Malloy/Pryor’s new “Turnaround Director” violated Connecticut law by failing to get proper teacher certification (8/20/13)

Just when Connecticut’s “Alliance” Districts thought it couldn’t get worse… (8/19/13)

Hello? It’s the 2nd week of August…where is the State’s Alliance District Funding? (8/8/13)

Malloy’s Commissioner of Education signs another $1 million contract with out-side consultants (7/20/13)

Warning! Warning! Alliance Districts Beware: (6/27/13)

Pay More, Get Less: The Malloy/Pryor Approach to Problem Solving: (6/5/13)

Layoffs for Connecticut Residents, Retainers for out-of-state consultants: The Malloy-Pryor-Mass Insight Contract (5/24/13)

The Malloy/Pryor Education Reform Consultant Full Employment Gravy Train (5/17/13)

Oh look, there goes more Connecticut taxpayer money to out-of-state “education reform” consultants (5/16/13)

21,000 children head off to the 1st day of public school in Hartford, but not Luke Bronin’s

Last week Hartford, Connecticut parents got their public school children packed up, ready to go and sent them off to the first day of school.

But the man who aspires to be Hartford’s next mayor, and would have the responsibility of appointing a majority of the members of the Hartford Board of Education, wasn’t one of them.

Instead, Greenwich native Luke Bronin, who moved to Hartford and is running for Mayor, dropped his child off for their first day at the prestigious Renbrook private school in West Hartford, Connecticut where the annual tuition runs from $19,500 to $33,500 per year depending on which grade the child is enrolled in.

While the vast majority of children in the United States go to public schools, those with means have the choice to send their children to a public school or a private school.

Growing up, Luke Bronin only attended private schools.  Starting with the Greenwich Day School, where tuition starts at $33,500 for kindergarten and rises to $37,500 a year for the higher grades, Bronin then attended Phillips Exeter Academy, with a cost of $48,000 a year, although that does include the $180 a year “Linen Fee.”  Luke Bronin then spent ten years in the Halls of Yale, Oxford and the Yale Law School.

With privilege comes opportunity and while no one should ever begrudge a parent for doing everything they can to ensure that their child or children get a quality education, it is relevant when a politician who says he is ready to “turn-around” Hartford’s public schools won’t enroll his own child in the public school system he claims that he will serve.

As part of his campaign, Luke Bronin has been saying that taxes in Harford are too high and, if elected, he won’t raise them.

However, the harsh reality is that despite the fact that more than 80% of Hartford’s school budget is paid for by the State, Hartford’s public schools are inadequately funded.

Hartford class sizes are too large and there aren’t sufficient services to help students who come from poor families, those who aren’t fluent in the English language and those who need special education services.

So while Luke Bronin says he will “support” Hartford public schools, he is also promising not to increase revenue, which would leave Hartford schools with even fewer resources.

By comparison, while Bronin’s proposed policies would hurt Hartford schools, he is choosing a very different type of school for his own child.

According to Renbrook,

The Renbrook education is characterized by small classes and personal attention from faculty members. There are 189 students in Renbrook’s Upper School (Grades 6-9) and only 10-12 students in each classroom. In this small learning environment, students have the opportunity to ask questions, share ideas, and to learn from other students, as well as the teachers. Renbrook’s teachers are dedicated, passionate educators who support the advancement and achievement of each individual student.

The Student:Teacher Ratio at Renbrook is 7:1

The Student:Teacher ratio in the Hartford school system is more than double that number.

And in addition, while Hartford’s public school students, parents, teachers and school administrators are crippled by the Common Core, the Common Core SBAC testing scam and Connecticut’s unfair teacher evaluation system, Luke Bronin’s child is attending a school that DOESN’T adhere to the Common Core SYSTEM, doesn’t force children to take the unfair Common Core SBAC testing program and treats their school teachers like the education professionals that they are.

Bronin’s platform will lead to budget cuts for Hartford’s students, while his child will be attending a school that informs parents that Renbrook is located on;

Seventy-five acres of woodlands, wetlands, fields and gardens; four athletic fields, a high-and low-ropes course; three playgrounds, plus a natural pond for science study. Teaching space includes 11 buildings, 10 math, science and technology labs, seven music and art studios, two theaters, a dining commons, a Middle School Mathematics Center, and a 16,600 sq. ft. Library & Technology Center, heated and cooled with geothermal technology.

Meanwhile, many Hartford schools don’t even have functioning libraries and most certified library professionals have been laid off or their positions not re-filled.

This week, Achieve Hartford! Inc., the corporate funded education reform group in Hartford wrote,

The first day of school in Hartford Tuesday underscored the importance of community partnerships, parent support, and staff dedication. At Hartford’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Engineering and Green Technology Academy, and Breakthrough Magnet Schools, a key message was that, if indeed it takes a village to raise a child, a whole lot of villagers are on board.

Yes, as we know… It does take a village to raise a child!

It takes a village and sufficient public funds to provide a quality education to all of the children in Hartford and Connecticut’s public schools.

And it also takes elected and appointed officials who are committed to helping those public schools succeed.

If Luke Bronin wants to send his child or children to an elite private school and can afford to pay $20,000 a year, per child, to ensure they have a private school education, that is certainly his right as a parent.

But parents, teachers and the public in Hartford and across that state shouldn’t be fooled.  When the person who wants to be mayor, and who would appoint the members of the Hartford Board of Education, decides to enroll his child or children in a prestigious private school, rather than the city’s public schools, it sends out a powerful message about privilege and entitlement.

Of course, Luke Bronin isn’t alone when it comes to claiming that he is ready to oversee public schools while sending his own child or children to a private school.

Heck, even Arne Duncan, Obama’s Secretary of Education and leading corporate education reform advocate, claims that he supports public schools while sending his children to one of the most elite and expensive private schools in the country.

SBAC Results – Telling us what we know about poverty, language barriers and unmet Special Education needs

Academic experts have proven over and over again that the major factors influencing standardized test results are poverty, language barriers and unmet special education needs.

Wealthier students, students who are fluent in English and students who don’t need special education services do better.

For students who do need special education services, when schools properly fund those programs, students do better.

The Common Core SBAC test is not only designed to fail the majority of public school students, but is particularly discriminatory because the SBAC scam’s definition of “success” is even more directly connected to wealth, proficiency in the English language and the lack of any need for special education services.

The following chart makes the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory nature of the Common Core SBAC test extremely clear.  The chart rank orders the percent of students deemed “proficient” in MATH, by town, according to the 2015 Common Core.

Note that eighth graders who live in wealthier towns with few English Language Learners and the funds necessary to provide special education services score higher on the SBAC Math test, while students who come from communities in which there is significant poverty, large numbers of students who aren’t fluent in English and lack the money to provide sufficient special education services do poorly.

Connecticut’s didn’t need to spend $50 million dollars in scarce taxpayer funds and tens of millions more at the local level, over the past two years to identify the problem.

The problem is that poverty, language barriers and unmet special education services reduce academic performance.

Experts, teachers, school administrators and policymakers knew what the problem was decades ago before the Connecticut Mastery Tests were even begun and they have known it as the CMTs were given every year.

The Common Core SBAC testing is an extraordinary waste of time, money and effort.

More testing is not the answer.

The answer is for Governor Dannel Malloy and the Connecticut General Assembly to adopt a fair, equitable and Constitutional school funding formula that provides schools with the resources needed to ensure all of Connecticut’s children get the quality education they need and deserve!

Percent of 8th Graders deemed “proficient” by the SBAC test, by town:

School District Mathematics
Percent at Level 3 & 4:
 Meets or Exceeds the Achievement Level
Darien School District 83.4%
Westbrook School District 76.7%
Avon School District 76.6%
Farmington School District 74.3%
New Canaan School District 71.7%
Guilford School District 69.1%
Kent School District 69.0%
Regional School District 05 67.9%
Ridgefield School District 67.6%
Easton School District 66.4%
Mansfield School District 66.1%
Canton School District 65.9%
Preston School District 65.7%
Clinton School District 65.3%
Bozrah School District 65.0%
Westport School District 64.9%
Regional School District 07 64.7%
Tolland School District 64.7%
Salem School District 63.6%
Regional School District 10 63.4%
Simsbury School District 63.2%
Granby School District 62.3%
Pomfret School District 62.1%
Glastonbury School District 61.8%
East Granby School District 61.3%
Greenwich School District 61.2%
Redding School District 61.1%
Hartland School District 60.9%
Madison School District 60.5%
Salisbury School District 60.0%
Ellington School District 59.8%
Regional School District 08 59.7%
Weston School District 59.2%
Willington School District 58.7%
Ledyard School District 57.9%
Cheshire School District 57.5%
South Windsor School District 57.4%
Regional School District 15 57.1%
East Lyme School District 56.9%
Brookfield School District 56.0%
Newtown School District 55.8%
Wilton School District 55.4%
Fairfield School District 55.1%
Voluntown School District 52.6%
Portland School District 52.5%
New Fairfield School District 52.2%
Southington School District 52.2%
Colchester School District 52.0%
Old Saybrook School District 51.9%
Shelton School District 51.4%
Regional School District 18 50.4%
Rocky Hill School District 50.3%
West Hartford School District 49.3%
Monroe School District 49.0%
Litchfield School District 48.8%
Berlin School District 48.4%
Trumbull School District 48.3%
Stonington School District 48.2%
Regional School District 04 47.3%
East Haddam School District 47.3%
Canterbury School District 46.7%
Regional School District 17 46.6%
Seymour School District 46.3%
Suffield School District 45.4%
Columbia School District 45.3%
Regional School District 13 45.2%
Stafford School District 45.1%
Elm City College Preparatory Charter School 44.9%
Somers School District 44.3%
Coventry School District 43.4%
Thomaston School District 42.9%
Regional School District 12 42.9%
Amistad Academy Charter School 41.8%
Newington School District 41.5%
Bethel School District 41.4%
Bolton School District 41.4%
Odyssey Community Charter School 41.2%
North Haven School District 41.1%
Waterford School District 40.6%
North Canaan School District 40.5%
Bridgeport Achievement First Charter School 39.7%
Regional School District 14 39.6%
Oxford School District 38.8%
Integrated Day Charter School 38.7%
Milford School District 38.1%
Regional School District 16 37.9%
Groton School District 36.2%
Wolcott School District 35.4%
Montville School District 35.4%
Wethersfield School District 35.2%
Stamford School District 35.0%
Griswold School District 35.0%
Windsor Locks School District 34.9%
Wallingford School District 34.8%
East Hampton School District 34.4%
Bristol School District 33.9%
Watertown School District 32.4%
Woodstock School District 32.3%
Lebanon School District 32.2%
New Milford School District 31.4%
Branford School District 30.8%
Windsor School District 30.2%
Vernon School District 30.1%
Plymouth School District 29.7%
Cromwell School District 29.5%
Plainville School District 28.6%
Hamden School District 27.0%
East Windsor School District 25.7%
Ashford School District 25.5%
Park City Prep Charter School 25.3%
Middletown School District 25.0%
Norwalk School District 24.7%
Danbury School District 23.8%
Putnam School District 23.6%
Lisbon School District 22.9%
North Stonington School District 22.9%
Sprague School District 22.7%
Stratford School District 22.2%
Manchester School District 22.1%
West Haven School District 22.0%
The Gilbert School District 21.9%
Jumoke Academy Charter School 21.3%
Naugatuck School District 21.0%
Regional School District 06 20.4%
Torrington School District 20.1%
The Bridge Academy Charter School 19.1%
Norwich School District 18.1%
Thompson School District 17.6%
Derby School District 16.8%
Bloomfield School District 16.5%
East Haven School District 16.1%
Killingly School District 16.0%
Enfield School District 15.8%
North Branford School District 15.5%
Brooklyn School District 15.5%
New Haven School District 15.0%
New Beginnings Inc. Charter School 14.3%
Meriden School District 13.6%
Windham School District 13.3%
Highville Charter School 12.5%
Plainfield School District 12.3%
Ansonia School District 12.1%
Hartford School District 11.9%
New Britain School District 11.8%
East Hartford School District 10.4%
New London School District 8.3%
Bridgeport School District 8.3%
Regional School District 11 8.1%
Waterbury School District 7.3%
Achievement First Hartford Academy Inc. Charter School 6.9%

State’s most vulnerable children get their day in court by Wendy Lecker

Wendy Lecker is one of Connecticut’s most outspoken education advocates.  As senior attorney at the Education Law Center, she has helped lead critically important school finance lawsuits.  Wendy Lecker is also a columnist for the Hearst Connecticut Media Group.  This week she reports on Connecticut’s vital CCJEF v. Rell School Funding Lawsuit.

Once supporters for ensuring Connecticut has a fair and equitable school funding formula, Governor Dannel Malloy and Attorney General George Jepson are now leading the effort to ensure that Connecticut’s public school students and Connecticut’s local property taxpayers don’t get the help they need and deserve.

Wendy Lecker explains,

Connecticut’s elected officials have steadfastly refused to fix our school finance system, which leaves schools underfunded and local property taxpayers overburdened. Public school students and local property taxpayers will finally have their day in court when Connecticut’s school funding case, CCJEF v. Rell, starts trial in October. It is now important to understand some of the basic tenets in school finance.

First, all children have the constitutional right to school resources sufficient for an education enabling them to participate in democratic institutions, attain productive employment, or progress to higher education.

Second, it costs more to educate some children than others. Children living in poverty often require more services than children who do not. The stresses associated with poverty affect brain development, often leaving children with behavioral and cognitive difficulties. As a result, schools serving poor children need specific resources, such as: social workers, behavioral therapists, psychologists, learning specialists, small classes.

Children learning English require more services than those already proficient. The services necessary to help a child learn English are different than those needed to support a child who lives in poverty. Similarly, children with disabilities require additional services.

Third, some municipalities cannot raise as much revenue as others, and therefore need more state school aid. Often, those municipalities serve the highest concentration of the neediest — and therefore most expensive to educate — children.

These cornerstones of school finance are universally accepted and understood. They form the bases of school funding systems across the nation. They undergird the CCJEF plaintiffs’ case. Essentially, the plaintiffs claim Connecticut has underfunded its public schools in large part because the state school finance system does not accurately account for the cost of education in general, the cost of educating students with additional needs or a municipality’s capacity to raise revenue.

CCJEF’s school finance experts calculated the gap between what the state provides in school aid and what our schools and children need to be about $2 billion; based on 2004 standards, costs and demographics.

What does this massive school funding shortfall mean? Schools serving our neediest children lack essential academic resources: teachers, reading specialists, guidance counselors, social workers, reasonable class size, well-equipped libraries, academic intervention services, computers, preschool, etc.

Connecticut’s leaders have gone to great effort — and expense — to ignore these three basic tenets of school finance.

Since the CCJEF case was filed in 2005 — when then-Mayor Dannel Malloy of Stamford was a plaintiff — our leaders have convened commissions, task forces and ad hoc committees ostensibly to study school funding. They did this without consulting real school finance experts. These gimmicks provided the appearance politicians were doing something to fix the problem.

In reality, our leaders have done next to nothing. The state owes our neediest districts up to $7,000 dollars per pupil. However, from 2012-13 to 2014-15, the average increase in Education Cost Sharing (ECS) aid to our neediest received was $642 per pupil.

The only recent change politicians made to our ECS formula undermined fair funding. The legislature removed from the ECS formula the ELL weight: i.e. the adjustment in the formula that attempted to account for the cost of educating ELL students. This move is contrary to sound education finance policy and is particularly absurd in a state with a growing ELL population.

Connecticut’s inaction on school finance is why our small wealthy state figures prominently in a national report on financially disadvantaged districts. Connecticut is ranked fifth in the nation in the percentage of children enrolled in financially disadvantaged districts, with more than 13 percent of our children in these districts. The state with the highest concentration, Illinois, has 25 percent.

At the same time the state has done nothing to help poor districts, it has spent millions on unsuccessful attempts to have the CCJEF case dismissed.

In the latest budget season, the state made matters worse. State figures reveal that the largest increase our financially distressed districts will receive in 2016 is about $100 per pupil. Windham will receive an increase of only $19 per pupil. Most needy districts will get no increase for 2017.

At this pathetic rate, it will take more than 20 years before the state makes up the gap in school funding.

In human terms, that means two generations of children will go through school without adequate resources to help them learn, losing years of learning they cannot recapture.

Year after year Connecticut’s elected officials have been unresponsive to the educational needs of our most vulnerable children. In October, they will have to answer for that in court.

You can read and comment on Wendy Lecker’s original piece at: http://m.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-State-s-most-vulnerable-children-6378743.php?utm_content=buffer47d00&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

NEWS FLASH: Kids win, Malloy/Jepsen lose as judge rules school funding trial to begin this summer

In a stunning defeat of Governor Malloy’s political strategy to push off CCEJF v. Rell school funding debate until after the 2014 gubernatorial election, a superior court judge ruled today that the trial will begin as scheduled.

The trial date for the CCEJF .v Rell was scheduled to begin July 2014 beck in December 2011, but since then Governor Malloy, Attorney General George Jepsen, Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor and the Malloy administration wasted thousands of hours, costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to have the critical case dismissed.

And when that strategy failed, Malloy and Jepsen had the unmitigated gall to try and delay the trial for fifteen months until after the 2014 gubernatorial.

But in a move that proves some members of the judicial branch of government still believe in fulfilling their constitutionally sworn duties, Superior Court Judge Kevin Dubay rejected the state’s effort and ordered the trail to begin as scheduled this summer.

In response the attorney’s representing Attorney General Jepsen and Governor Malloy said that the plaintiffs should expect the trail to do for months.

An easy threat to make considering the state’s attorneys are paid for by the Connecticut taxpayers while the people bringing the lawsuit on behalf of Connecticut’s school children are trying to put the case together with limited resources and donated legal assistance.

How Malloy and his administration have handled the CCEFJ v. Rell school funding case should be one of the most important voting issues of the 2014 gubernatorial campaign.

For those who don’t know that much about the case, here is the Wait, What? article that was posted yesterday.

Whatever you do, don’t mention school funding and the school funding lawsuit!

The Malloy administration will be back in a Connecticut courtroom tomorrow, January 16, 2014, in their unending effort to destroy, derail or delay the court case known as Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding v. Rell.

CCJEF v. Rell is not only the most important school funding lawsuit in Connecticut history, it is safe to say that it is one of the most significant cases since Connecticut’s State Constitution was updated and adopted in 1965.

The case, which was filed in 2005, has already been to the Connecticut’s Supreme Court where the state’s highest court ruled that Connecticut’s State Constitution requires the state to provide every child will a quality public education.

When the Supreme Court reached its decision, it sent the case back to the trial court to determine what actions the state of Connecticut must take to fulfill that Constitutional responsibility.

Although Governor Dannel Malloy, when he was Mayor Dan Malloy, was an original plaintiff in the case and campaigned for governor on a platform of resolving the case, upon being sworn as Governor Malloy he did a “180” on the issue and with the help of Attorney General George Jepsen has been trying to get to the case dismissed.

But late last year a Connecticut Judge threw out every motion Malloy and Jepsen had submitted and ordered that the full court trial on the case begin on July 1, 2014.

But July 1, 2014 is in the middle of the 2014 gubernatorial campaign and the last thing that Governor Malloy wants in the news is coverage of his failed education policies.

So Malloy and Jepsen have taken the incredible step of trying to get the case “delayed” until after the election.

You can read more about the CCEJF case in the following Wait, What? posts.

The CCJEF v. Rell School Funding Case: The incredible transformation of Malloy and Jepsen

As the CT Mirror reported in a recent article entitled, “State seeks to delay education-funding trial until after election,” The state is asking that the trial over whether Connecticut is spending enough money on education be pushed back until after the gubernatorial election in the fall.”

Attorney General Jepsen, with Malloy’s help and support, has submitted a motion to delay the trial until October 2015.

According to their brief, the Malloy administration is arguing, “The stakes in this case are enormous…When the stakes are this high, the defendants, on behalf of the taxpayers in Connecticut, are entitled to know and understand the plaintiffs’ case, not as it existed four or more years ago, but as it will actually be presented at trial.”

This comes from the people who were responsible for delaying the case in the first place.

As the CT Mirror reports, Malloy and Jepsen want the case delayed until after the election because, “the plaintiffs -– a group of mayors, parents and leaders of teachers’ unions — need to update their complaint and experts’ reports to reflect the current educational landscape, which warrants delaying the trial.”

In response, as the CT Mirror explains;

“‘Defendants are responsible for delay,’” attorney Helen V. Cantwell writes on behalf of the plaintiffs. “’The interests of justice would be better served by a scheduling order that preserves the July 1, 2014 trial date.’”

Cantwell points out that their experts can testify about the current condition of the educational funding structure at trial, that the State Department of Education continues to reject their requests for information so they can prepare for trial, and that the state has blown through several deadlines for reporting their expert witnesses.”

The article concludes with a prepared statement from Attorney General George Jepsen’s office which reads;

“Of primary concern, the plaintiffs rely on expert witnesses whose opinions are based on the educational and funding system as it was years in the past. The state is entitled to know before trial what those experts think of the current state of education and the impacts on it of the Governor’s comprehensive education reforms. We have no interest in delaying this case for delay’s sake, but we do insist that the state’s taxpayers are entitled to receive a fair hearing.”

The CCEJF v. Rell case, perhaps more than any other issue that has developed during Malloy’s tenure, highlights Malloy’s approach to politics and policy.

And meanwhile, the children of Connecticut be damned.

Malloy can tell it to the judge (By Wendy Lecker)

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

CT Post Editorial says; Come on Malloy/Jepsen – Give State’s students their day in court”

The lawsuit is called CCFEF v. Rell.

As we know, it is the most important school funding lawsuit in more than 40 years.  Despite their previous support for the lawsuit, Governor Malloy and Attorney General George Jepsen are now working overtime to try and prevent he case from even being heard.

And now the Connecticut Post’s editorial writers weigh in…on the side of Connecticut’s students.

The CT Post writes;

“Eight years and countless hours of work into a suit that seeks more money for children in underserved communities, the governor and attorney general are asking that it be dismissed. While that would certainly make their lives easier, their reasoning is flawed, and a judge should reject their pleas and allow the suit to continue.

It was during the governorship of M. Jodi Rell that the suit was filed under the banner of the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding, arguing that Connecticut children are being shortchanged by state funding formulas, and that the state is not meeting its obligation to provide an “adequate” education to all children.

Parents and officials in the state’s major cities were behind the effort, and their ranks included the mayor of Stamford at the time — Dannel P. Malloy.

Now Malloy, as governor, and Attorney General George Jepsen are urging a court to dismiss the suit, and using a number of specious arguments. For one, they say the group lacks standing to sue the state, which is odd, considering parents and school officials in underfunded districts have more stake than anyone in the quality of education offered in Connecticut.

Jepsen has argued that it would be unfair to decide the case based on conditions from 2005, when the suit was filed. But surely it’s not the fault of the suit’s backers that it has taken this long to work its way through the courts. If that argument is successful, anyone sued would have everything to gain by simply delaying whenever possible and then calling the action old news, as the state is trying to do here.

State lawyers also argue that the education reform package signed by Malloy last year makes the issue moot. This argument has the least merit. While those reforms do many things, they do not approach a solution for the chronic underfunding of urban districts, and some would argue they make the system worse. To say the law needs a few years to gauge its effectiveness is yet another delaying tactic.

The Connecticut Supreme Court in 2010 ruled that every child is entitled to an “adequate” education, and sent the case back to the lower court to determine whether the state is providing that. Connecticut does spend a lot of money on its schools, some $3.8 billion this fiscal year. There is good reason to think that money could be spent more wisely.

But that is for a court to decide. What must not happen is for the suit to be dismissed before it is heard.

The lawsuit, and Connecticut’s students, deserve a day in court.”

You can find the Connecticut Post’s editorial here:  http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/State-students-should-get-their-day-in-court-4824907.php

It sure would be a refreshing change if our elected officials stopped spinning in circles, took the time to read this editorial and then followed the CT Post’s advice.