The expectations gap dividing Connecticut’s schools

he gap dividing Connecticut’s schools is much more than wealth. I would argue that it is also a gap of expectations. A major problem driving what Judge Thomas Moukawsher so aptly called the Connecticut’s “ irrational” education and financing systems is the lack of expectations for all of its students. A student can still get a high school diploma and not be able to read and write. This is because all that a Connecticut student has to do is to pass the requisite number of courses prescribed by the district and the state. However, as has been made clear over time, passing a course does not require meeting any specific literacy standard.

Hillary’s choice for Education Secretary could be ‘anti-public’

A recent survey of educators across the nation reveals that, when elected, Hillary Clinton may follow in the footsteps of President Obama concerning her choice of Secretary of Education in the Department of Education in Washington, D.C. Obama’s choices of Arne Duncan followed by John King were the most anti-public education appointments in the history of the Democratic party. Now it appears, based on the recent survey, that Clinton may continue the anti-public education tradition during her administration with yet another education secretary who will espouse the downward spiral of public education that has occurred for the past eight years.

Moukawsher got the problem right, and the solution wrong

Judge Thomas Moukawsher has performed a remarkable service by shining a bright light on the profoundly unfair, counterproductive, and irrational way Connecticut funds public education. While the odds against a court-overseen remedy of the type contained in his Sept. 7 order are long indeed, the children of Connecticut should hope that the governor, the State Department of Education, and the legislature seize the opportunity to make radical change.

Why Connecticut should think twice about asking to ‘end Sheff’

In the wake of the recent CCJEF v. Rell trial court decision on school finance, we should take a moment to consider the continuing benefits of the Connecticut Supreme Court’s 1996 Sheff v. O’Neill decision for low income children in our state, and the importance of keeping this crucial legal mandate in place. The City of Buffalo’s experience with court-ordered integration 30 years ago is a reminder of how these independent constitutional rulings can maintain political will for reforms on behalf of low-income children that would otherwise get lost in the political process.

Closing Connecticut’s real achievement gap

There‘s a lot of talk in Connecticut about closing the achievement gap between affluent students who are predominately white and poor students who are predominately black or brown, but there have been no effective actions taken and none are on the horizon.

Instead, Connecticut gave up its own well-founded state standards and adopted the narrow and inadequate Common Core Standards, called them rigorous which they are not, and gave students standardized tests to measure their achievement of those quite limited standards. Then Connecticut waited for the test scores to see if the impoverished would catch up to the affluent. They haven’t and they won’t.

CCJEF v. Rell appeal more dangerous than status quo

On Sept. 7, there was a moment when interest-convergence was happening right in front of us. As Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher read his ruling on CCJEF v. Rell, advocates like myself started to believe that remedies for inequality were being granted permission to stand up and be recognized. To my consternation an appeal was filed. I believe this appeal, filed by Connecticut Attorney General Jepsen, represents an unqualified dismissal of potential remedies.

Education reform should be rational, and should work in practice

Despite the best of intentions, in an overly-broad ruling Judge Thomas Moukawsher has prescribed some remedies that I believe would lead us to repeat past mistakes at great cost to many. I respectfully ask the judge and state leaders to seek policies that are not just rational, but ones proven to actually work in practice. Borrowing a phrase from another judge, I argue further that many of his demands are “decided upon an economic theory” which a large part of education research does not entertain.

Education funding — An opportunity for CT Democrats to lead

Last week, Judge Thomas Moukawsher released a siren call of a decision in Connecticut Coalition for Educational Funding (CCJEF) v. Rell, an 11-year-old case that has been working its way through the Connecticut Superior Courts. The recommendations on how public education in Connecticut should be funded and facilitated were detailed, thoughtful, and comprehensive. Most importantly, the court gave legislators in the General Assembly a clear directive: right the ship on school funding and educational opportunity for all students, in all districts, in the next 180 days. Democrats in the state house have the opportunity today to reclaim the mantle of social justice and fight for our children’s most basic civil rights.

Connecticut’s school funding formulas whimsical, but not inequitable

Judge Thomas Moukawsher says the state’s school funding mechanism is irrational and the that state thereby failed to fulfill its mandate to thousands of schoolchildren across the state, and that the state spends this money “whimsically.”The funding formula is perhaps irrational and needs to be revised, but this judge’s decision can be described by those same two adjectives, and reflects a very basic failure to understand the problem. It seems that the decision was arrived at by looking at test scores and making the assumption that the only variable that affects these scores is financial, while neglecting the fact that there are many other variables which contribute to the quality of the outcomes.

‘Dark poison’ in Judge Moukawsher’s education ruling

Judge Thomas Moukawsher issued a monumental ruling last week in Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding v. Rell. Based on an extensive trial that ran from January through June, the judge determined that Connecticut’s system of funding education was irrational and unconstitutional. As to his basic findings, Judge Moukawsher is to be applauded. The excellent decision came, however, with a very dark poison in it. Judge Moukawsher proposed that certain children with severe disabilities be denied a public education.

Of Connecticut’s teacher shamers and Zip Code apartheid

With the decision from the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (CCJEF) v. Rell case, we are taking a giant leap forward in Connecticut, but taking an equally giant step backwards as a nation. We’re starting to win the battle of funding equity, but we are still losing to the teacher shamers — which is more a national issue than solely a Connecticut issue. It’s important to remember that teachers are the lifeblood of a school and we’ve been misunderstood for years.

Judge correctly identified need for systemic public education overhaul

The ink isn’t yet dry on Judge Thomas Moukawsher’s ruling in CCJEF v. Rell — originally brought in 2005 — and Connecticut must already prepare to defend its educational practices in another court –this time federal. While CCJEF contemplated the state’s constitutional obligation to adequately and rationally fund public education, Martinez v. Malloy challenges the state’s policies on magnets, charters, and open enrollment — asserting that the state is preventing students from accessing minimally acceptable public school seats. It bears remembering that these are not the first major cases to identify an unfair system of public education that is directly responsible for gaps in achievement in our state.