Connecticut Supreme Court Strikes Down School-Funding Case

By Daarel Burnette II — January 18, 2018 1 min read
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Connecticut’s supreme court has struck down a lower court ruling that deemed the state’s school spending formula and several associated education policies unconstitutional.

That September 2016 ruling rocked the state’s political system for its sweeping condemnation of the state’s teacher quality standards, special education spending, and the dwindling academic performance of the state’s poor, black, and Hispanic students. In the ruling, Superior Judge Thomas Moukawsher used flamboyant language that animated the state’s teachers, administrators and politicians alike (read that entire ruling here).

But the state’s appointed supreme court said Wednesday it was not it’s place to dictate how the legislature spends its money on schools.

“The plaintiffs have not shown that this gap is the result of the state’s unlawful discrimination against poor and needy students in its provision of educational resources as opposed to the complex web of disadvantaging societal conditions over which the schools have no control,” Chief Justice Chase Rogers wrote.

That language is similar to language used by Texas’ elected supreme court last year that also said that while that state’s schools had deeply entrenched problems, it wasn’t the court’s role to mingle in state spending.

The Connecticut lawsuit was brought in 2005 by the Connecticut Coaltion for Justice , a coalition of parents, teachers, school administrators and local officials. It argued that the state’s school funding formula left behind the state’s growing black and Hispanic communities.

In response to the state supreme court’s ruling, the group said they will continue to “pursue all legal remedies” in order to have the case “reconsidered and overturned,” according to the Associated Press.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, a Democrat, said while the latest ruling marks the end of the constitutional fight over school funding, it doesn’t end the political fight to more evenly distribute the state’s school spending. The state is experiencing a financial crisis caused, in part, by ballooning pension costs.

“We continue to believe that the state is obligated to ensure that funding is distributed in a rational manner based on student need, reflecting student poverty, and demographic shifts in our communities,” he said in a statement.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.