The 40,000 member Connecticut Education Association's leadership has far more questions than answers following a judge's ruling yesterday saying the way the state funds local education is inadequate.
The more than 200 page ruling sent shockwaves through the political arena because it gave the General Assembly 180 days to come up with a funding solution.
"It’s confusing at best and disappointing," said Mark Waxenberg, the executive director of the CEA.
Waxenberg fears for the possible repercussions of Judge Thomas Moukawsher's ruling that essentially threw out the window the way the state spends money on local districts of education. He said the ruling didn't provide any kind of specific guidance as to what the funding formula, known as ECS, should look like to make the funding system more fair and equitable.
"The point should be based on adequacy, not on a formula," Waxenberg said Thursday. "A formula drives money but we have to look at the adequacy necessary to drive resources in West Hartford and the resources necessary to educate that child in Hartford so he's really looking at the hole and not at the doughnut."
The most troubling example Waxenberg sees in who may be left out is children who require special education services which are distributed and in many cases paid for by local districts, and not the state.
"If you have an autistic child in Greenwich, that autistic child needs services as much as they need it in Bridgeport so the issue of equity and equality needs to be for both students, rather than pitting one town against one another," Waxenberg said.
Governor Dan Malloy said Thursday that he sees the ruling as an opportunity to make sure schools systems that are most in need get the help they need.
“I think quite clearly the judge is saying, 'hey, Connecticut, get this right and get it right quickly,' and quite frankly, I think we should get it right quickly,” Malloy said.
Malloy also pointed out that more than half a billion dollars more is going to the state's poorest school districts since he took office.
Another point of criticism from Moukawsher was the state's teacher evalusation system and the ability to weed out bad teachers. He described the current system as "cotton candy in a rainstorm."
Sheila Cohen, president of the CEA, said she was left with questions there, too, because of the lack of specifics. Cohen said the group has worked for changes to teacher evaluation for two legislative sessions and will continue to do so.
"We want something that's meaningful and works for both teachers and students."