When the courts get it right and side with justice, such as with Brown v. Board of Education of 1954, parents of color and/or poor and marginalized communities seized the moment to ensure educational equality for all children. When the law was enforced children of color and/or the poor thrived; when the law was not enforced, children of color and/or the poor struggled to survive.
Sixty-two years later, on September 7, 2016, Hartford Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher ruled in the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (CCJEF) v. former Governor Jodi Rell court decision, that many aspects of our educational system is unconstitutional for poor children and must be fixed with deliberate speed! Now Connecticut’s parents of color, the poor, English Language Learners and children with special educational needs have an opportunity and an obligation to seize the moment, to ensure equitable educational opportunities are the rule for all children and not the exception!
As a result, the Connecticut Parents Union is excited to launch our #SchoolsR4Kids Campaign – stay tuned for details. Especially in light of the fact that Connecticut’s Attorney General George Jepsen recently filed a petition to the Supreme Court to Appeal the CCJEF.
Why does the CCJEF ruling matter to parents and students? It matters because it offers much needed hope. In the communities, neighborhoods, and homes of Black and Brown families as well the homes of special needs children and/or the homes where English is not the primary language, there was a palpable atmosphere of optimism. This optimism was cautiously revealed after being denied educational equity for decades. Why? Because finally a judge stated in an unwavering conclusion that Schools are for Kids – End of Story!
This landmark ruling in the case outlines very clearly that many Connecticut school districts have failed and continues to fail poor students by “graduating them without the skills needed for higher education” Moukawsher said.
Judges Moukawsher statements about educational standards for Connecticut children were already established on March 23, 2010 when the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in CCJEF v. Rell.
The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that all Connecticut schoolchildren have a constitutional right to an effective and meaningful education. In reaching one of its most important and fundamental decisions in thirty years, the Court stated that, “the fundamental right to an education is not an empty linguistic shell” and must meet “modern educational standards.” The Court said these standards must prepare students to “participate in democratic institutions,” “attain productive employment,” and “progress on to higher education.”
It is clear that in each court decision for CCJEF, equity, fiscal and personnel accountability must be at the core of the state’s elementary and secondary educational plan to ensure the Constitutional rights of all Connecticut’s children.
The bottom line, Schools are for Kids and every educational policy must align with this fact!
Yet, elected officials from both political parties decided to stand with and encourage State Attorney General George Jepsen to file an Appeal to “protect the status quo” which includes poor performing teachers and their union that protects their performance and their behavior.
The state’s position demands of taxpayer dollars to continue to invest into an educational system that doesn’t have meaningful accountability standards for spending or employee performance. To maintain the status quo is to continue to deny the constitutional rights of children of color and/or the poor and marginalized communities.
“In addition, a stay is necessary to protect the status quo should this application be granted. It appears, in accordance with Office of Governor v. select Committee of Inquiry, 271 Conn.540,546 (2004), that this court may issue a stay…, and the undersigned hereby request entry of that stay.” GEORGE JEPSEN , ATTORNEY GENERAL
However, Hartford Superior Court Judge Moukawsher said in his ruling
“Good teachers can’t be recognized and bad teachers can’t be removed,THOMAS MOUKAWSHER, JUDGE
In addition, the court ruling states that it’s an irrational and dysfunctional teacher evaluation system when the system deems the majority of teachers are “proficient” regardless of student performance in the classroom.
Many Parents of color and/or poor communities agree that Attorney General Jepsen’s act of appealing the CCJEF decision, and the overwhelming support of his appeal from elected and appointed officials, from both political parties, have made it clear, with their actions, that the constitutional rights of certain populations of Connecticut’s children do not matter.
But the good news for Connecticut parents and children is the fact that the Connecticut Constitution is on the side of all children regardless of their race, zip code or disability. Indeed, Schools are for Kids and their safety, education, and over all wellbeing is non-negotiable!