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Suit Calls for "Adequate" Education
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David Noah, a student at Yale Law School and former public school teacher: Photo by Diane OrsonDavid Noah, a student at Yale Law School and former public school teacher: Photo by Diane OrsonThe Connecticut Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Tuesday in the case brought by the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding. Members of the coalition were in Hartford on Monday in advance of the hearing.

CCJEF is made up of a bi-partisan group of municipalities, local boards of education, parents and others. The coalition argues that under Connecticut’s constitution, the state must provide students with an equitable and “adequate” education –one that ensures that kids are prepared to meet proficiency goals on standardized tests, are ready for higher education and to become effective citizens.

Last year a Superior Court judge dismissed the ‘adequacy” part of the lawsuit…CCJEF appealed to the state Supreme Court. 27 year old David Noah, a former public school teacher and co-director of Yale Law School’s Educational Adequacy clinic, is one of two students who will argue the case.

"In its most basic form what we’re saying to the court is, when you have a right to free public education that means more than just free and public, it means education also..and that word has meaning, it has content."

State lawyers say that Connecticut’s constitution dos not guarantee a “suitable” education. They say that would amount to re-writing the constitution and would turn the court into a primary decision-maker for education policy.

Merrill Gay, father of 2 students in New Britain public schools: Photo by Diane OrsonMerrill Gay, father of 2 students in New Britain public schools: Photo by Diane OrsonBut Merrill Gay, father of 2 students in the New Britain public schools, says without the right to a meaningful education, local school districts won’t receive the funds they need. He says its time for Connecticut to change the way public education is funded.

"I moved to Connecticut about 25 years ago from Maryland and was frankly shocked that we paid for public education with a local property tax. It just struck me as absurd that you could have a state as rich as this state, with such income disparity and still rely on a local property tax to pay for education."

A decision in the case is expected sometime this summer.


 

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I find it absurd that PUBLIC

I find it absurd that PUBLIC education is paid for by local property tax. If this is the case then why not put kids through public school instead?

Does anyone know the outcome of this case and whether there was any improvement?

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I really don't think

I really don’t think that the state knows what an adequate education is. This “new” math is total crap! I am so sick of it that I am really considering putting my kids back in private school. And since the state allows children in speech therapy to receive vouchers, they can pay for my son next year.

Adequate Education

I agree with the comment about the Hartford students and would like to broaden it to Connecticut students. I am a foster parent and became interested when trying to advocate for teens in special education programs. I agree that we need to fund education differently to eliminate disparities.
We must also change our way of thinking about education, in particular, special education issues. I have met many teens, and their parents, who are barely able to read at a second grade level. My teens that I fostered were in highschool and functioning between 4th and 7th grade levels. Not all of them were in Hartford Public schools, either. I learned that all surrounding communities have the same policy toward special education students. They all use what they call "compensatory education" but which is in fact a "dumbing down" of the curriculum.
For children who missed a lot of school, remedial help is needed to catch them up. None of my teens were identified as having a specific learning disablity, beyond lack of motivation. They each went to a different high school, and participated in tutoring programs and resource groups. They all stated that they were not taught how to do the homework themselves, but instead were given the correct answers. One student could not complete the basic math problems on the back of a Subway job application. One of my teens was so thrilled to be able to do her English homework herself, and find out she was not "too stupid" to do it, she went from straight F's to B's and C's in one semester.
Hartford is spending all its time and energy fighting to get a few more spaces opened up in surrounding school districts for "Open Choice." First, this only benefits students who start early in an advanced school, and who are of above average intelligence. For these students, the wider selection of advanced courses will better prepare them for college. It will cost us more for transportation than it would to simply offer the extra courses in our existing schools.
For a special education student, "Open Choice" really means no choice. We need to understand that the laws we have made, and the way parents choose to advocate for their children, have placed our school systems around the state in a double bind. They cannot freely provide honest and thorough evaluations of special needs students because if they state that the child has a specific need, such as intensive speech or occupational therapy, they can be sued and made to pay for it. This detracts from the time that could be spent in a regular academic environment. Including a disabled child in the mainstream classroom is challenging but do-able. The real definition of compensatory education means to make allowances for the child's disability, or to change the teaching method. It does not mean to change the curriculum or the content of what is taught, or the expectations of what the child is able to learn.
Remedial education should be for those who are academically behind or who have gaps in their learning. This does change the content of what is taught. Remedial help for speech and occupational therapy should be outside of the classroom, and educators need to have the freedom to refer children without fearing a lawsuit, or that their educational budget will be spent providing these extensive services, while regular education is neglected.
It would not kill a teacher or the class to spend 15 minutes teaching 9th graders how to use a dictionary and look things up alphabetically, or to take 10 minutes at the beginning of the class to do basic math facts drills before starting intro to algebra. I learned this in 4th grade. Apparently these students were expected to have learned but did not. It does not cost ANY extra money to provide real appropriate curriculum and actually TEACH the skills needed to learn from that curriculum. We don't need to bus students all over the state and we don't need bigger or newer buildings.
We need educators who will treat us and our children with respect and teach our children starting with the most basic skills. We could save our state hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars, and provide BETTER resources for our special needs kids by getting honest with ourselves about the basics.

i agree

The real definition of compensatory education means to make allowances for the child's disability, or to change the teaching method. It does not mean to change the curriculum or the content of what is taught, or the expectations of what the child is able to learn.

RE:

It does not mean to change the curriculum or the content of what is taught, or the expectations of what the child is able to learn.

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Suit Calls for "Adequate" Education

Congratulations to those who are pursuing this issue!
I have two small children. The oldest is finishing up Kindergarten. We live in a small-medium suburb between Hartford and Middletown. I am amazed at how much my son is already reading and comprehending! I just read the article on “Students Join Bush Protestors In Hartford,” and I was appalled at the quote from the Weaver High School student:
“Dog, yeah. They were like, ‘fight for school, not war,' and I agree with that 'cause I don't like Bush because he be hurtin' too much in Hartford and in Connecticut and in all them other places, so I feel where they're coming from." I appreciate the students enthusiasm, but fear for her future.
It is imperative that ALL of Connecticut’s students receive the SAME education. It shouldn’t matter if their parents are executives working in New York City or homeless living on the streets. I am a strong supporter of public schools and believe in the concept that each town should pay into a fund which should be equally distributed (based on population) throughout the state for education & teachers salaries. In this model all children would have the same opportunities and schools would have the same funding to meet the standardized testing.
Perhaps it is cliché, but our children are our future; they all need a proper education. Their success is directly linked to the success of our state and nation! The argument that it is not in our Constitution is an absurd excuse! It is simply unacceptable. Our children deserve better.