Will State Legislature Actually Do Something About School Funding Inequality?

Connecticut Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher ruled in September that the state’s public education funding formula was irrational with the state “defaulting on its constitutional duty” to provide all students equal education. Bridgeport was cited several times in his decision, including how the state has shifted money from the city to wealthier communities.

The Connecticut General Assembly convenes next week trying to get its arms around this issue as it grapples with state budget woes.

In a commentary published by the Connecticut Mirror, Madeline Goodman and Anita Sands, researchers at the Educational Testing Services, write “The Connecticut case is an important example of a much broader phenomenon. We have become a nation of stark contradictions.”

Connecticut Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher wrote in his September school funding decision of the “alarming” condition of education in the state’s neediest districts, citing that “[A]mong the poorest, most of the students are being let down by patronizing and illusory degrees.” He has a point–one that extends far beyond Connecticut and our poorest students.

The latest results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), referred to as the Nation’s Report Card, found that nearly two-thirds of 12th-graders in the U.S. perform below proficiency in reading, and three-quarters perform below proficiency in both math and science.

In early December, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released results from the 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) assessment, which examines the skills of 15-year-olds across 34 OECD countries. U.S. student performance was, at best, mediocre (in science and reading) and well below average in mathematics.

Full viewpoint here.

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3 comments

  1. Educational achievement/success tracks economic opportunity, not the other way around, especially in the context of families. When family energy is exhausted in pursuit of economic survival, or even worse, totally extinguished in the face of insurmountable economic obstacles, education will probably not even be an afterthought.

    Economies that offer opportunity, motivation and resources will promote education at the family and society levels. In retreating or rigidly tiered economies, such as the US economy of the past five decades, educational achievement will track/mirror the economy. The retreat of US education tracks and mirrors the retreat and restructuring of our economy. Trying to move the national education needle in the positive direction, especially in economic backwater urban areas, is an exercise in futility and a misapplication of resources.

    In order to get US education back on track, the US economy must again provide opportunity and incentives at the individual, family, and societal levels. Our preoccupation with education issues and massive spending on education can be chalked up to tail-chasing and waste as long as our economy remains a paper tiger (constructed from imported paper). When families are again able to readily access living-wage jobs, the kids they send to school will again be incentivized and supported to the necessary degree for educational success.
    Just by way of an appropriate local, albeit somewhat abstract example: The decision to create the University of Bridgeport was based on the local need for appropriately trained professionals in the manufacturing industry, as well as in supportive areas throughout the local economy/society. Education tracked opportunity. That’s how it works in the modern, developed world.

    Regarding the Moukawsher decision: It will not cause equitable public education funding, much less at sufficient levels to move the education needle in a positive direction in urban areas. Like all the other major, education court cases; in and of itself, it is meaningless.

  2. Perhaps we can best start with a new Mission Statement. Currently:
    “The mission of the Bridgeport Public Schools and its supporting community is to graduate all students “college ready” and prepared to succeed in life.”

    After reading it, do you agree this is the appropriate mission for public schools today? If so, is our system succeeding or failing? By how much? For the dollars spent, are we on the right track? Who is accountable for the results and how are results shared with the community?

    For the moment, let’s say you are unhappy with the current mission statement or with the current results or with the attention paid to accountability. What can you do? Why wait 13 years to see?

    Why don’t we demand all Bridgeport students come to Kindergarten with a certain level of preparation ascertainable by basic assessment? Why not have the same student starting point enjoyed in other communities as far as school preparation? If only 2/3 of students get pre-K today, and if some of those efforts are not truly up to quality standards, are we ready to act? How much remedial and special education efforts in Bridgeport Public Schools deals with matters that, if provided earlier, might lessen needs down the road? And what about life development tracks that lead to work and careers that may require education but not necessarily “college ready” upon high school graduation? Do we continue the current status quo or discuss changes in mission? Time will tell.

  3. We’re not going to see much change on the legislative front. The representatives from the ‘burbs always yell the loudest even though the children of their constituents come to Bridgeport to slum and party.

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