Connecticut Judge Issues Sweeping School Funding Decision

POLITICO Pro reports Hartford Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher issued an order demanding that the state design a new and better way to fund public education while excoriating state lawmakers for their spending decisions.

The Connecticut judge read his ruling for more than two hours, The Hartford Courant reports, declaring that the state “is defaulting on its constitutional duty” to adequately fund public education. He said the state has 180 days to come up with a new spending plan.

“Too little money is chasing too many needs,” Moukawsher said, warning state lawmakers against making a “mockery of the state’s constitution.” Too many high school graduates aren’t ready for college or career and the teacher evaluation system is dysfunctional, he said.

The ruling comes about a month after final arguments in the case, The Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding vs. Gov. M. Jodi Rell, which was first brought 11 years ago by a group of parents, students and teachers. It was meant to examine the adequacy, rationality and fairness of how schools are funded in the state.

The state legislature recently stripped $5 million in state aid from some of the neediest school systems, redirecting the funds to comparatively wealthy communities, The Connecticut Mirror reports.

“There could not be a worse time to move education money from struggling school districts,” Moukawsher said. “But the state did it anyway.”

“The importance of the state’s direct duty over public education could not be clearer,” he said. “Elementary and secondary education is a fundamental right.”