Ganim Praises Judge’s Decision Condemning State’s Education Funding Formula

From Mayor Joe Ganim:

Mayor Joe Ganim released the following statement reacting to a decision by Hartford Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher declaring unconstitutional Connecticut’s current public education funding formula.

“This decision by Judge Moukawsher is a game changer for our children. This ruling is a detailed, thorough indictment of how the state fails to provide an adequate education in Bridgeport and other poor school districts in Connecticut. I could not be more impressed by the strength of Judge Moukawsher’s decision. His well-detailed and logical analysis will be hard for anyone to disagree with or challenge. He is right and has given our children back their constitutional right to have to a fundamentally adequate education. For too long, students, parents and teachers in poorer districts like Bridgeport have been left to fend for themselves to carry out the state constitutional mandate to provide good quality schools. For years, we cried out that we cannot do it in poor districts all on our own. We simply don’t have the property tax base in our city to pay for the many services needed by the over 21,000 students in our district, many of whom are poor and come from challenged or broken homes. For the first time, someone has heard our plea and is holding the Connecticut General Assembly to a strict timetable to fix our broken system.

I would urge the Attorney General to listen to the words of this strongly written decision and not waste any more time or precious public resources appealing this case or fighting it any further.

We all want what our children deserve: a good quality education. A child in Bridgeport has every right to a great teacher, a safe learning environment, and the tools that are necessary to get a good education. These are basic minimum standards that students in wealthier communities have come to expect. Now, finally Judge Moukawsher has resoundingly agreed that the State of Connecticut has a responsibility to ensure that every child in Connecticut has access to a quality education.”

More on this in a news release from Students Matter:

Today, Hartford Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher issued a decision in Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (CCJEF) v. Rell, finding the state’s formula for distributing education aid is irrational and unconstitutional. In a sweeping opinion, read from the bench in its entirety by Judge Moukawsher, the Court ordered the state to craft and adopt rational remedies on the following subjects:
· The relationship between state and local government in education;
· An education aid formula;
· A definition of elementary and secondary education;
· Standards for hiring, firing, evaluating, and paying education professionals;
· Funding, identification, and educational services standards for special education.

The state has 180 days to submit proposed remedies. Once the state has submitted its proposed remedies, the plaintiffs will have 60 days to comment and propose alternatives.

Students Matter, the national nonprofit organization sponsoring the Connecticut federal education equality lawsuit Martinez v. Malloy, issued the following statement in response to the Court’s ruling in CCJEF v. Rell:
“Students Matter applauds the Court’s decision in CCJEF v. Rell, an important case challenging the adequacy and equity of Connecticut’s school funding system under the state constitution. While the court recognized that equitable funding for Connecticut’s public schools is an important step toward ensuring every child has an opportunity to learn and succeed, it’s critical to note the Court’s acknowledgement that a multitude of other factors beyond funding must also be addressed to ensure that all students have access the educational opportunity promised by the state’s constitution.

“Today’s well-reasoned decision was an indictment of Connecticut’s education system. The decision recognizes that the state of Connecticut is ‘defaulting on its constitutional duty’ to provide equal educational opportunity to all students, not just through the state’’inequitable funding formula, but also through a failure to account for other factors that impact education equity, such as the standards for hiring, firing and evaluating educators, and the failure of the state to appropriately prepare all students for success in college and life.

“The Court’s condemnation of widespread inequity in Connecticut’s education system, and its call to look at remedies outside of funding, underscores the importance of Students Matter’’federal education equality lawsuit, Martinez v. Malloy. The anti-opportunity laws challenged by Martinez v. Malloy are also hurting children across Connecticut, erecting unnecessary and burdensome red tape that restricts students’ access to the quality public schools that we know are possible, in violation of the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the U.S. Constitution.

“We congratulate the CCJEF plaintiffs on today’s remarkable victory, and reiterate our support for the Martinez v. Malloy student and parent plaintiffs in their fight to have harmful bureaucratic restrictions struck down, and ultimately ensure all children have access to a quality education.”

On August 23, 2016, a group of Connecticut students and parents filed Martinez v. Malloy, a federal lawsuit against the State of Connecticut challenging a set of state anti-opportunity laws and policies that restrict access to quality public school options, in U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut with the support of Students Matter.

Throughout Connecticut and across the country, many public schools–including magnet, traditional and charter public schools–are delivering a world-class education to students of all backgrounds. Unfortunately, the State of Connecticut has passed and continues to enforce state laws and policies that essentially shut the doors to these quality public school options, contributing to one of the largest achievement gaps in the nation and denying the state’s most vulnerable students access to the equal opportunity they deserve.

To learn more about Martinez v. Malloy, please visit



  1. Students matter. So do the professional and dedicated folks engaged in preparation of those students. And so does the community that provides the resources supporting these activities today and dependent on those youth maturing into responsible and capable individual capable of caring for the world as adults.
    So the decision may have more court appearances as well as consideration in Hartford in terms of next year’s budget.

    But,what were all the steps taken so far by the Bridgeport School System to adjust to the $15 Million shortfall for FY2016-17??? The City has projected a $6 Million gain in revenue from the State in its July monthly financial report. How much of that can and should be allocated to the service of the school system? Any thoughts for when the Budget and Appropriations committee meets next Monday September 12 at 6pm? Time will tell.

    1. I am sure Joe Ganim’s eyes lit up in the courtroom. Mario Testa’s, too. More money you say, that’s amazing!

      What other unqualified individual can we put on the BOE payroll? How much money can we steal from the BOE now?

      Joe Ganim could care less about our 21,000 BPS students. You can’t say I “care” when you flat-fund the BOE knowing it will leave a $15 million dollar deficit resulting in devastating cuts that will impact the very children you claim to “care” about.

      Joe Ganim is an unapologetic compulsive liar.

  2. Judge Moukawsher simply recognized the obvious and gave general, abstract directions to the Connecticut GA, a body that in recent years has revealed itself to be a rudderless, clueless, legislative body incapable of dealing with a generally incompetent, confused governor, to repair the ECS formula [that everyone except (apparently) the judge knew was irrational] and tighten up teacher evaluations/standards and educational preparedness testing/standards [which has been an endless, BS process for two or three generations].

    It sure sounds like more of the same BS solution set that has been hawked by legislators and education advocates for decades. Redefine educations standards, create more tests for teachers and students, reshuffle inadequate education dollars in a pretense at fairness and pragmatism. Isn’t that where the insidious Charter School system came into play in conjunction with the Sheff vs. O’Neill lawsuit of the ’90s?

    Another generation and more BS form the courts and state government.

    This judge has thrown the ball back into the court of the very players who have demonstrated they aren’t up to playing the game at a professional level.

    This is a stingy Yankee non-solution to Connecticut’s flawed, skewed, approach to education funding/promotion.

    All that has been done is a Superior Court handwashing of itself of the problem.

    The buck has been passed back to those from whom it was handed to the Judge. A non-solution.

    Like the City of Bridgeport, the State of Connecticut no longer has the wherewithal to self-evaluate or self-correct. There needs to be high-level intervention. But then, the US is also having a difficult time acknowledging, evaluating and correcting its own socioeconomic flaws and political/governance problems.

    There are still a few individual states that seem capable of maintaining socioeconomic health within their borders through the efforts of state government, among these are Oregon, Washington, and a few others.

    It seems Connecticut might want to seek some advice about the cross-section of state issues from one of the more functional states.

    This latest “enlightened ruling” concerning the attainment of adequacy in meeting our public education mandate is just one more indication of how dysfunctional we have become and how badly we require outside assistance toward the re-attainment of state-government functionality.

  3. Remember the Sheff v. O’Neill decision in 1989, when her son Milo was a fourth-grade student at Annie Fisher Elementary School in Hartford, Elizabeth Horton Sheff? That case was still being updated in 2015.

  4. There is good in this decision but lots of unfortunate uninformed statements about special education and the value of testing to determine student learning. As the NYT quoted an expert, most cases similar to ours dealt with the money. This judge threw too many other spices into the soup. Some very bitter flavors.

  5. New comment. You can bet this decision will be appealed and as Ron Mackey points out, many generations of children have suffered for years here in Bridgeport due to our District getting shafted by the state formula.

  6. How many classes are reading at grade level? A few students in each classroom. Example, a 7th grade class has nine special kids, eight who read at a kindergarten level, that leaves 12 reading at class level or 1 class below class level. One more question, why are we testing kids five days into the school year?

  7. Ganim and Rabinowitz are making mountains out of molehills. The judge throws this back into the State Legislature but the State Legislature is controlled by the suburban Legislators (both Democrat and Republican). The political divide in Connecticut is not between Democrats and Republicans, it is between the emerging powerful suburbs and the poor rotting urban areas. That is the state of CONNECTICUT.

  8. Frank, that is the essential truth of modern-day American politics. The suburbs’ gains are the cities’ losses, in Connecticut, by unmistakable, historically verifiable design (e.g., the abolition of county government in 1960).


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