The Connecticut Supreme Court has breathed new life into one of the most important school finance cases in the history of our state.
The case, CCJEF v. Rell, asserts that the state should provide funding to ensure each and every child can meet specific standards and function as productive citizens. This assertion is in contrast to traditional school finance fights that have been premised on the notion that the right to an education meant only that schools need to be equal to one another.
With today’s ruling, Supreme Court justices have sent the case back to Superior Court where it likely will be tried. CEA is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
CEA Executive Director John Yrchik says, “We are pleased that we and other members of our coalition (the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding or CCJEF) can proceed. This is a very good decision for those of us who have long claimed that state educational funding laws have deprived students of an equal educational opportunity.”
This afternoon CCJEF held a news conference to mark the court decision – a step forward – in the legal battle. Speaker after speaker decried the current system of education funding as unfair to children and teachers alike.
Bristol Superintendent of Schools Philip Streifer told reporters it’s the school finance system – not the public education system – that’s shortchanging children.
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Merrill Gay, a New Britain parent, says that children need resources. They shouldn’t have to fight in court as plaintiffs in lawsuits, and their parents shouldn’t have to fight with school boards each year to keep critical programs and dedicated teachers.
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It’s expected to take years for the case to be litigated. Key Democratic state legislators who spoke at the news conference didn’t indicate that more money from the state legislature would be forthcoming. They said only a strong governor can deliver the bold plan that’s needed to avoid a protracted trial.
CEA is studying the decision and consulting with Association attorneys about all available options.