Category Archives: Recent Press

PRESS COVERAGE OF CCJEF v. RELL VICTORY

The Supreme Court’s announcement of the most important education decision in three decades was covered throughout Connecticut. The decision guarantees all schoolchildren an adequate education, one that prepares them to participate in democratic institutions, obtain gainful employment, and continue on to higher education. This decision is a major victory for education in Connecticut. For more expansive coverage of the decision in the press, see below:

NEWSPAPER

State High Court Ruling Cites Need for Quantifying Education Quality
Hartford Courant

After 25 Years, Broken Education System Remains the Same
Hartford Courant

Yale Law Clinic Wins Landmark Schools Ruling
New Haven Independent

Court Ruling Could Bring Vast School Reforms
New Haven Register

State Schools Missing Mark: Unequal Education at Center of Case
New Haven Register

Supreme Court Says Students Guaranteed ‘Suitable’ Education
Connecticut Law Tribune

Conn. High Court Sets Minimum Education Standard
Associated Press

Danbury Area Officials Welcome State Supreme Court Rule Favoring Education Funding Reform
Danbury News Times

Court Sanctions Challenge to State School Equity, Funding
Connecticut Post

Law Students Help Win Education Suit
Yale Daily News

School Decision Presents Another Challenge to Cash-Strapped State
Connecticut Mirror

Funding of Education in State Could Change
The Day

RADIO AND TV

State High Court Sides With Advocacy Group on Education Funding
WTIC

High Court Rules Against Conn.
WSHU

Ruling Appealed for Better Education
WTNH

Court Revives Lawsuit Over How Schools are Paid for in Connecticut
NECN

CT Supreme Court Decides Education Standards
WNPR

BLOGS

Ned Lamont, Dannel Malloy on CCJEF Court Decision; Blumenthal Says Ruling Lack a Majority for Clear Result
Major State Supreme Court Ruling on Education in CCJEF Case; Hartford Receiving About $187 Million in ECS Funds
Hartford Courant Capitol Watch Blog

Underfunding Public Schools Undermines Excellence Says State Supreme Court
CEA Blog

Connecticut High Court Says Constitution Guarantees College or Job Readiness
Get Schooled Blog, Atlanta Journal Constitution

Connecticut Supreme Court Rules that Public Schools Must Provide an Adequate Education
Chronicle of Higher Education Blog

CT NAACP STATEMENT OF SUPPORT FOR CCJEF v. RELL DECISION

The Connecticut State Conference of NAACP Branches issued the following press release following the decision in CCJEF v. Rell.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE            FOR INFORMATION CONTACT:
Monday, March 22, 2010                John Brittain, 832-687-3007
 
 
CT Supreme Court Supports NAACP Move, Education Funding Coalition Lawsuit

HARTFORD – The Connecticut Supreme Court today voted in favor of  a lawsuit filed by the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding, which claimed unequal education on behalf of schoolchildren and parents. The State NAACP had filed a friend of court brief in support of the CCJEF in its case against the State and its Governor, M. Jodi Rell.

“The NAACP has stood behind the Coalition’s efforts to ensure adequate education for each and every child in the state,” NAACP President Scot X. Esdaile said. “And we stand ready to fight for the right of every child to graduate from high school, succeed in college and compete in our global economy.”
 
Connecticut is home to the worst achievement gap between poor and non-poor children, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The State has also been slow to satisfactorily address the Connecticut Supreme Court’s order to reduce the ethnic and racial isolation and unequal educational opportunities outlined in the Sheff v. O‘Neill case.

John Brittain, Chief Counsel and Senior Deputy Director Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, lauded the Supreme Court decision. “Article 8 of the Connecticut Constitution states that children have a fundamental right to an adequate education,” Brittain said. “This decision marks the first time that the Supreme Court has acknowledged this right in broad terms, and adds to decisions such as Sheff and Horton v. Meskill in extending the right to adequate education.”

NPR: Waiting for Education Ruling

It’s been more than a year since the state Supreme Court heard arguments in an important lawsuit challenging the way Connecticut funds public education. Plaintiffs continue to wait for the high court ruling. 

Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding versus Rell could be the most far-reaching state education lawsuit since the Sheff vs. O’Neill desegregation case. A coalition of municipalities, boards of education, parents and teachers say that under Connecticut’s constitution, the state must provide children with an equitable and adequate education. They say that means that students should be prepared for college and to become effective citizens. A Superior Court judge dismissed the “adequacy” portion of the lawsuit. The plaintiffs appealed to the CT Supreme Court.  Five justices heard oral arguments in April 2008.  A few months ago, the court added two more judges to the case, so a full seven-member bench will ultimately issue the decision.

Yale Law School Clinical Professor Robert Solomon is the attorney for the plaintiffs. He’s not surprised by the long wait for a ruling. “Given that Kerrigan, the same sex marriage case took equally as long and it’s a major constitutional decision I as a litigant would hope we would have heard by now but I can’t say its shockingly long.”

Lawyers for the state argue that it’s the responsibility of the legislature and not the Supreme Court – to address quality of education issues. Once a decision is announced, the case will go to trial.

Listen to the NPR story by Diane Orson

NH Independent: A Year Later, Still Waiting For Education Ruling

One year ago, the Connecticut Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a major constitutional case that could change the way public school education is funded in the state – when it’s finally decided. The state’s highest court has now delayed its ruling once more.

CCJEF v. Rell is probably the single most important education case since the landmark desegregation case, Sheff v. O’Neill, which was filed 20 years ago this week.

While the full seven-member bench could have heard CCJEF last year, two justices decided not to sit, leaving five members to decide the case.

That was then.

Two weeks ago, as the year April 21st anniversary approached, Michele T. Angers, the court’s chief clerk, wrote a letter to attorneys announcing that the Court has ordered an “en banc” court. That is, instead of letting the five justices who heard the case rule on the case, it had decided to add two justices to the case in order to create a full seven-member bench.

“The urgency of our claims should be obvious,” said Dianne Kaplan deVries, the CCJEF project director. “While we’ve waited these past 12 months for a decision from the Supreme Court, thousands of students have dropped out of our public schools, with Latino students leaving at four times the rate of their white peers, and blacks and American Indians at three times the white dropout rate.

“Also this past year some 47,000 schoolchildren failed to score at even the “basic” reading level on the state’s assessments, and 40 percent of all Connecticut schools failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress under No Child Left Behind.”

Yale Law School Clinical Professor Robert Solomon, who has overseen the CCJEF case, told the Eagle: “We are certainly pleased that a major constitutional case will be resolved en banc, but it is an important case that still has to go to trial, and we hope we can get a Supreme Court decision as quickly as possible.”

Read the entire New Haven Independent story by Marcia Chambers

Courant: CT Towns Raise Red Flag On School Budgets

Municipal leaders and education advocates used a lot of metaphors Wednesday to describe state and local budget problems.

“You can’t squeeze blood from a stone.”

“We’re facing a tsunami.”

Public education is a ship in troubled water, heading straight toward an iceberg without radar or binoculars.

The bottom line: We need more money from the state or we need relief from unfunded mandates. And we need it now.

“The governor and General Assembly must recognize that the bulk of education costs cannot continue to be passed on to cities and towns,” said Dianne Kaplan deVries, the project director for the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding.

DeVries was one of several speakers at a press conference hosted by the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities. Municipal and school leaders from across the state gathered at the Legislative Office Building to urge lawmakers to give more relief to towns and cities that don’t feel they can raise taxes any higher to balance budgets.

Education leaders argued that municipalities need more money from the state’s Education Cost Sharing grants. In their budget proposals, both Gov. M. Jodi Rell and the Democrat-led legislature proposed keeping funding the same as last year for the grants.

“We appreciate flat funding,” said Cal Heminway, president of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education and a member of the Granby Board of Education. “But understand that flat funding is actually a cut on a local level.”

Read the entire Hartford Courant story by Jodie Mozdzer

CT Post: More school funding sought

Connecticut’s mayors and first selectmen said Wednesday it’s inevitable that higher taxes on the state’s wealthiest incomes will be part of this year’s budget solution in the General Assembly.

During a news conference attended by about 200 chief elected officials, budget experts and school administrators, the leaders called for more state funding for education and warned that less state aid will mean higher property taxes locally…

Diane deVries, project director of the Connecticut Coalition for Justice In Education Funding, which is awaiting a decision on state funding in the Connecticut Supreme Court, said neither the governor’s budget, proposed in February, nor the majority Democratic package voted in committee last week, has enough funding through the Educational Cost Sharing (ECS) formula.

 “Quite simply, flat funding of the ECS is a cut,” she said. “The short-term ramifications of the state’s broken, outmoded school finance system and its heavy reliance on local property taxes are already apparent: inadequately resourced schools, gross inequities of school quality, unacceptably low academic performance by students in far too many communities, and the nation’s worst achievement gap.”

Read the entire Connecticut Post story by Ken Dixon

NPR: Town Officials, School Leaders Ask State for More Funding

More than 200 gathered at the state capitol to ask for more state funding to help sustain public schools.

Both Governor Jodi Rell and the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee have proposed flat-funding the Education Cost Sharing grant, or ECS, that municipalities receive from the state.

According to Dianne Kaplan deVries, the Project Director for the State’s Coalition for Justice in Education Funding, these budget proposals will result in massive layoffs, larger class sizes, and many program cuts.

“As municipalities and their school boards struggle to pay for rising wages tied to contractual obligations, ever-escalating healthcare premiums, soaring special education costs, and heavy burdens owing to No Child Left Behind and other federal and state mandates, the Governor and the general assemble must recognize that the bulk of education costs cannot continue to be passed on to cities and towns.”

Read the entire NPR story

NH Independent: YLS Students Argue Education Case to CT Supreme Court

Seven months ago Superior Court Judge Joseph Shortall gutted a lawsuit aimed at fixing the badly broken education cost sharing (ECS) formula the state uses to fund its public schools. This week two Yale Law School students asked the justices of the Supreme Court to restore the full lawsuit, saying the trial court “prematurely decided the case.”

The law students, David Noah and Neil Weare, are members of the Yale Law Education Adequacy Project, a clinic type class that brought the lawsuit in 2005 on behalf of Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (CCJEF). Several major cities and towns have joined the lawsuit. At this juncture, only one of four counts in the complaint remains.

Noah and Weare, both 27, sat at a table Monday in the well of the courtroom along with their professor, Robert Solomon. The class works under the supervision of Solomon and two attorneys, Robin Golden and Alex Knopp.

Read the entire New Haven Independent story by Marcia Chambers

Courant: Court Considers: What is a Good Education?

Simon Bernstein sat in the front row of the courtroom Tuesday as state Supreme Court justices, an assistant attorney general and two law students grappled over the meaning of his words.

Back in 1965, Bernstein had been largely responsible for crafting an article added to the state constitution guaranteeing “free public elementary and secondary schools.” A former Hartford alderman and Bloomfield school board member, Bernstein’s experience with local school funding debates had convinced him of the need to make education a fundamental right.

“I thought I was giving a simple clear statement without any unnecessary words that could be misinterpreted,” said Bernstein, now 95 and a retired judge.

But on Tuesday, the exact meaning of those words were up for debate as the state Supreme Court heard arguments in a lawsuit challenging the way the state funds education.

The lawsuit was brought against the state on behalf of 10 families with children in public schools and the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding, a group of education and municipal organizations.

It claims that the state fails to maintain a suitable and substantially equal education system by providing inadequate resources and conditions for education in many school districts, leaving students unprepared for jobs or continuing education and likely politically and socially marginalized.

Read the entire Hartford Courant story by Arielle Levin Becker

NPR: School Finance Lawsuit

Connecticut’s Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a special appeal Tuesday-part of the school finance case brought by the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding.

In 2005 a coalition of municipalities, boards of ed, parents and teachers known as CCJEF filed a lawsuit, charging that Connecticut’s public financing system violates students’ constitutional right to an equitable and adequate education. Last year, a Superior court judge dismissed the “adequacy” part of the lawsuit.; CCJEF appealed straight to the Connecticut Supreme Court.

Much of the hearing centered around – how to define an “adequate” or “suitable” education. Two Yale Law School students argued on behalf of the plaintiffs. They pointed to underperforming schools in Bridgeport and Meriden and said the state’s constitution gives these students the right to be prepared for a world beyond high school.

Read the entire NPR story by Diane Orson