Education Finance Ruling

September 7, 2016

The Superior Court ruling in the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (CCJEF) v. Rell lawsuit recognized the necessity to do more for students in the greatest need—those attending schools in high-poverty communities—but did nothing to rectify the problem.

The 254-page court decision, issued on September 7, does not provide any remedy for the lack of resources and revenue for students in the state's poorest communities, and the decision went well beyond the focus of the funding issue—the essence and heart of the CCJEF litigation.

The court's ruling imposes one-size-fits-all mandates that erode flexibility and local education control, penalizing the majority of Connecticut's schools. These mandates fly in the face of the new federal Every Student Succeeds legislation, and are clearly within the purview of the state legislative and executive branches of government responsible for setting education policy in Connecticut.

The state has 180 days to address the mandates, which include:

  • Creating new requirements for how teachers are paid (merit pay), hired, evaluated, promoted, and fired (tenure), as well as potentially linking compensation to evaluations;
  • Creating a new alternative funding formula to redistribute existing education funds to the poorest schools—in essence robbing funds from some students to provide funds to others;
  • Requiring high school students to pass an exit exam in order to receive a high school diploma;
  • Requiring elementary school students to pass an exit exam before being promoted to secondary school; and,
  • Restructuring how special education students are evaluated and served by making judgments regarding which disabled students can benefit from education and which cannot, and reducing funding accordingly.

CEA has been a leader on many of these issues, and with your input will further assess how the order impacts Connecticut's schools so we can continue taking actions necessary to do what is right for our students and our profession.

For the past two legislative sessions, CEA has advocated for a better teacher evaluation system with less bureaucracy, unnecessary busywork and paperwork, and more authentic, reliable, and valid multiple-measures of student growth. We will continue to work for the improvement of the teaching profession, not only in the majority of schools where students are performing well, but especially in high-poverty communities where students deserve well-qualified, certified, and experienced teachers and administrators.

Together, we stand ready to work with educational partners to ensure adequate and equitable resources for all students in the state of Connecticut. We will focus on real solutions to economic and social problems that threaten to cripple our state's education system and hurt our students.

Update: September 20, 2016 - The state Supreme Court will hear an expedited appeal of a lower court's conclusion that the way the state distributes education aid and oversees local schools is unconstitutional. Read the CTMirror article for additional details.

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