The Connecticut Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Thursday in an appeal on a 12-year-old lawsuit about how education is funded in the state.
A non-profit organization, the Connecticut Coalition For Justice In Education Funding, filed a lawsuit in 2005 that argues wealthy towns get more money for education at the expense of the poorer districts.
“We believe that every child regardless of the zip code that they live in, or the zeros at the end of their parents’ income, should receive the same quality of education,” said Rev. Abraham Hernandez, of the Connecticut chapter of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC). Rev. Hernandez gathered with a group of clergy and community members outside the courthouse prior to the hearing.
A Superior Court judge sided last September with the coalition and said he wants a rational funding plan, high school graduation standards, a definition of elementary education, teacher evaluation standards, teacher pay standards and reforms to special education.
The attorney general, however, appealed the decision and the state Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case.
This is happening, while state legislators continue negotiating a budget.
The latest Republican proposal, which passed in both the House and Senate, is drawing criticism for its educational funding formula. Republican Leader Themis Klarides said the GOP plan is constitutionally sound and would pass a judge’s test for equity in school funding.
Gov. Dannel Malloy, a Democrat, has vetoed that budget.
He criticized the Education Cost Sharing (ECS) formula for the way funds are distributed.
For instance, Greenwich, from 2017 to 2018, receives a 955 percent increase, to $1.12 million, from $106,750. While in Hartford, one of the most distressed cities in the state, the funding increase to $159 million is less than two percent, up from $156 million.
The clergy members said they hope the Supreme Court upholds the Superior Court’s decision and that lawmakers pass legislation that reflects that.
“I am sick and tired of people saying it’s about the children and then the children never making the agenda,” said Pastor Lindsay Curtis, the president of the Connecticut Missionary Baptist Convention and Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Norwalk.
“Put down your party affiliation and stand up for our children. It’s time and now is the time,” said Pastor Carl McCluster, of Shiloh Baptist Church in Bridgeport.