Judge: Connecticut education funding system unconstitutional and irrational

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HARTFORD — A Connecticut Superior Court judge has ruled that the state's education funding system is irrational and unconstitutional.

Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher ruled Wednesday in an 11-year-old lawsuit that the state must overhaul its education system and come up with a new funding formula within 180 days to ensure the state's poorest school districts have resources to provide an adequate education.

The Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding filed its lawsuit in 2005, arguing that Connecticut's current system results in more money for wealthy districts, while poorer ones suffer.

"Now that the court has found that the essential aspects of the existing education system is unconstitutional it must begin the all important task of constructing a specific remedy of the system’s inadequacies," said Herb Rosenthal, CCJEF's president.

The state has said all public schools are adequately funded and there has been no evidence to show that spending more would lead to better test scores.

Within the next 180 days -- the state must

  • Clearly define its role in relation to local government when it comes to education.
  • Come up with a new formula for calculating local education aid
  • Define what an elementary and secondary education consists of
  • Set standards for hiring, firing, evaluating, and paying educational staff
  • Set equal standards when it comes to special education.

Several mayors attended the hearing, as did some school districts.

"Judge Moukawsher’s decision may be one of the most significant Connecticut court decisions in decades," said Luke Bronin, mayor of Hartford. "It shines a bright light on the profound inequalities that exist between school districts and holds out the promise of real reform to our educational system and funding structure."

The case is expected to end up before the state Supreme Court.

Read the full decision here.