CCJEF Ruling Fails Connecticut Students
Strikes down overreaching mandates but allows state to continue underfunding schools
Wednesday’s State Supreme Court ruling in the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (CCJEF) v. Rell delivered a mixed verdict—bad for school funding, while rejecting the lower court’s attempt to create burdensome schemes for testing, teacher evaluation, and education policy.
The key issue in the CCJEF case was whether school funding in Connecticut is adequate. On this issue, the Court found that state funding meets the minimally adequate level required. This finding flies in the face of mounting evidence of poorly funded and resourced public schools throughout the state, especially in high poverty communities.
“This decision fails to protect education funding,” said CEA President Sheila Cohen. “Communities all over Connecticut have already seen the state withdraw from its obligation to fund our public schools,” Cohen observed. “Rather than protect the quality of education in our communities, this decision allows the governor and the legislature to continue to slash funding to our schools and children.”
While Connecticut’s schools and students on the whole do well compared to those in other states and countries, high-poverty districts have continuing challenges and achievement gaps as well as fewer resources and local revenues to support their schools.
The decision also rejected an attempt by the lower court judge to usurp the authority of the governor, legislature, and state department of education in setting educational policy and mandates on a variety issues. The State Supreme Court found no legal or constitutional authority for the judge to assume such authority.
“If Connecticut is to be an educational leader now and in the future,” said Cohen, “it will require that elected officials honor their duty to provide the equitable funding and resources all children deserve.” She added, “CEA stands ready to work with educational partners toward this goal of fully funding our public schools. The future of our students and our state depend on it.”