The 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 Connecticutâ€™s constitution, the state must provide students with an equitable and â€œadequateâ€ education â€“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 â€˜adequacyâ€ part of the lawsuitâ€¦CCJEF appealed to the state Supreme Court. 27 year old David Noah, a former public school teacher and co-director of Yale Law Schoolâ€™s Educational Adequacy clinic, is one of two students who will argue the case.
"In its most basic form what weâ€™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 Connecticutâ€™s constitution dos not guarantee a â€œsuitableâ€ education. They say that would amount to re-writing the constitution and would turn the court into a primary decision-maker for education policy.
But Merrill Gay, father of 2 students in the New Britain public schools, says without the right to a meaningful education, local school districts wonâ€™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.