The latest evidence of the reluctance of the judiciary to get involved in education policy was seen in the ruling by the Connecticut Supreme Court (“Connecticut Supreme Court Overturns Sweeping Education Ruling,” The New York Times, Jan, 19). In holding that the State Superior Court in 2016 erred in ordering the state to reform nearly every aspect of its educational policies, the decision showed common sense.
The plaintiffs in Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding v. Rell argued that disparities in educational achievement by themselves are proof that the state constitution’s equal protection provisions were violated. But different outcomes occur for many reasons over which schools have no control. For example, some students work harder than others, while some students are born with greater aptitude than others.
The courts have usually limited their verdicts to disparate spending. Asking them to go beyond such determinations is not their responsibility. Instead, it’s the job of legislatures. But even they can do only so much. That’s why I believe we will always have an achievement gap in this country. Yes, we should try to narrow the gap, but that’s not the same as abolishing it.
The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner’s Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.