What Connecticut's Schools Reveal About National Education Inequality

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A Connecticut judge calls unequal education unconstitutional, and raises national questions about the American way of schooling.

In this June 1, 2016 file photo, advocates, parents and students attend a rally outside the Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School in Hartford, Conn. (Michael Melia/AP)
In this June 1, 2016 file photo, advocates, parents and students attend a rally outside the Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School in Hartford, Conn. (Michael Melia/AP)

Americans know that funding local schools with local property taxes means inequality. We know that whole communities of children are coming up with substandard, even lousy education. And we don’t fix it. Last week, one judge said “enough.” A Connecticut judge said his state is failing - that it “has left rich districts to flourish and poor districts to flounder” - and gave legislators 180 days to design a better way. The whole country’s watching. This hour On Point, facing up to education inequality. — Tom Ashbrook


Daniela Altimari, state politics and government reporter for the Hartford Courant. (@capitolwatch)

Preston Green, professor of educational leadership and law and urban education at the University of Connecticut. (@drprestongreen)

Jerry Weast, founder and president of the Partnership for Deliberate Excellence and board member at the Institute for Educational Leadership. Former superintendent of Montgomery County (MD) Public Schools.

Rep. Andy Fleischmann (D-CT), Connecticut State Representative, representing the state's 18th District Assembly Seat. Chairman of the Assembly's Education Committee.

From Tom’s Reading List

Hartford Courant: Court Orders Far-Reaching Reforms for Public Schools — "Declaring that 'Connecticut is defaulting on its constitutional duty' to fairly educate its poorest children, a Superior Court judge on Wednesday ordered the state to come up with a new funding formula for public schools. Judge Thomas Moukawsher's unexpectedly far-reaching decision also directed the state to devise clear standards for both the elementary and high school levels, including developing a graduation test. He also ordered a complete overhaul of Connecticut's system of evaluating teachers, principals and superintendents. And he demanded a change in the 'irrational' way the state funds special education services."

WNPR: Connecticut Business Community Lauds Education Reform Objectives, But Questions Cost — "The state’s largest business organization has given a cautious welcome to a landmark court ruling, which orders a complete overhaul of Connecticut’s education system.Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher’s ruling this week in an 11-year case about the equity of school funding was comprehensive and radical. He ordered the state to come up with a plan to completely revamp how it finances education, what standards students must achieve, and how staff are compensated."

This American Life: The Problem We All Live With - Part Two — "Chana Joffe-Walt reports on the Hartford, CT school system, which actively seeks to integrate. The results have been impressive. It used to be that 11% of Hartford students were in integrated schools. Now it’s nearly half. But the trick to the whole thing is: convince white families it’s in their self- interest to go to integrated schools. This requires the kind of marketing skills and savvy we’re more used to seeing at Apple and Pepsi than we are at a public school district."

This program aired on September 13, 2016.


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