A Resource Guide: Adequate and Equitable Funding of Public Education in CT

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Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 3.53.45 PM(Source: CT Mirror 2016 budget tool)

This resource guide is for parents, teachers, students, and educational leaders that want to understand issues about funding public education in Connecticut and other states. Specifically, this guide intends to provide insight on the ideas of equitable, or fair, and adequate, or sufficient, funding of public education.

Below we will break down ideas into categories and try to provide brief summaries of each link, document, or resource. Specific emphasis will be on confronting misinformation about educational funding. If you have questions about the funding of public education, send it along in the comments and we will do our best to respond.

Featured resources: 

Discussion on school funding in Connecticut and the CCJEF v Rell case with Attorney Wendy Lecker and Robert Cotto, Jr.

Resources

  • In the news
  • Organizations
  • Analysis
  • Documents

In the news

Closing Arguments Begins in Connecticut School Funding Trial,” Vanessa de la Torre, The Hartford Courant, August 8, 2016.

CT school funding on trial: 5 key questions facing the judge,” Jacki Rabe Thomas, CT Mirror, August 8, 2016. More on CCJEF v. Rell in CT Mirror here.

Court considers fairness of state education funding,” Bill Cummings, CT Post, August 8, 2016.

Organizations

Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding – a coalition suing the State of Connecticut for adequate and equitable funding and educational opportunity for all public school students.

Connecticut Voices for Children – independent research and advocacy for children and families, including state budget and school finance research.

Education Justice – An program with the Education Law Center to expand educational opportunities and services for students.

National Education Policy Center – a center that produces research and reviews on education policy in accessible language and includes topics such as school finance.

Analysis

Publications

Problems with Connecticut’s Education Cost Sharing Grant, Orlando Rodriguez, 2011.

Blog Posts

“Betraying Educational Cost Sharing?” – An analysis of whether cuts to funding in Connecticut undermine the cooperation built into the ECS concept.

Videos

Post-Trial Oral Arguments in the CCJEF v. Rell Education Funding Case – Day 1

Post-Trial Oral Arguments in the CCJEF v. Rell Education Funding Case – Day 2

Post-Trial Oral Arguments in the CCJEF v. Rell Education Funding Case – Day 3

“Student Based Budgeting” – A discussion and articles about a type of funding education called “student based budgeting” or, sometimes, “weighted student funding”.

Discussion on school funding in CT and CCJEF v. Rell case with Attorney Wendy Lecker and Robert Cotto, Jr. Video here.

Documents

Presentation by CCM on the Education Cost Sharing (ECS) Grant 

Download (PPT, 3.52MB)

CCJEF Plaintiffs Post-Trial Brief

Download (PDF, 827KB)

CCJEF Plaintiffs Final Proposed Findings of Fact

Download (PDF, 1.82MB)

CCJEF Defendants Post-Trial Brief

Download (PDF, 1.71MB)

CCJEF Defendant (State of CT) Post-Trial Brief 

Download (DOCX, 187KB)

CCJEF Defendant Findings of Fact

Download (DOCX, 205KB)

A few changes in my schedule

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In September, I’ll start working on a Ph.D. degree in education leadership and policy at UCONN. My advisor will be Preston Green, III, who studies educational equity, K-12 school choice, privatization, and school finance, some of the areas that I’ve written about too.

So I will be at Trinity College part-time and focusing on fewer projects. You can still find me here at The Cities, Suburbs, and School Project and at Urban Ed @ Trinity.

You can learn more here about the Dean’s scholarship that I received at UCONN. In total, there will be five Dean’s Doctoral Scholars. (See their names below.)

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I’m all the way up!

 

 

 

 

 

What You Need to Know about Hartford’s Martin Luther King School: Part 1

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MLK school pic

Recently, I saw a former Hartford politician who asked me, “Did you figure out what to do with MLK?” The person got a mean side eye and a question.

What happens when you wrecklessly expand privately-managed state charter schools, interdistrict magnet schools, destabilize the other schools with other neoliberal education “reforms”, and resist raising revenue for public services (as opposed to private stadiums, condos, and the like)?

You get situations like the Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School in Hartford, Connecticut in 2016. MLK is a primarily Black and West Indian school that also has a smaller group of Latin@ students. The school is located in the city’s North End in the Blue Hills neighborhood.

Until a few weeks ago, the MLK, Jr. school was scheduled for renovation as new for $68 million. Mayor Pedro E. Segarra and the former city council members listed the school reconstruction as one of its capital projects on the city’s plan for renovating buildings and infrastructure. Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 9.07.45 PM

Then the new Mayor recommended that the project and all other school construction projects be removed from the list of projects. Citing financial problems and not wanting to raise taxes, particularly on commercial interests, the Mayor and almost all new council members eliminated the school construction projects from the Capital Improvement Plan for the City of Hartford.

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 9.17.46 PM

Maybe the Martin Luther King Jr. school project was always a dream. But dreams are hard to extinguish.

Rather than fix the school, the school board majority, the Mayor, and Council seem inclined to just move the children out of the school without any guiding policy, no realistic plan for moving the students, nor a complete renovation of the MLK school. So parents, teachers, and students at the MLK school aren’t buying what the Mayor, Council, and Board of Education are telling them about the school. Some MLK school advocates are saying “we’re not moving“, while others simply demand a long-term plan.

Like MLK, these parents, teachers, and advocates, “refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.”

MLK check

The irony is the Mayor of Hartford has called a forum on “North Hartford Schools” on Tuesday, June 14 @ 5:30 p.m. at the Artist Collective. Apart from the issue that nobody uses the term “North Hartford”, the forum is odd. The Mayor of Hartford appoints a majority of members (5 out of 9) on the Hartford school board. The Mayor of Hartford, by charter rules, also effectively controls all other municipal levers of power with the Council playing a smaller role.

Given that the Mayor and Council have the legal power to finance and fix the MLK school in the North End of Hartford, or any school in the city for that matter, there really isn’t a need for a forum to fix MLK school. Just fix the school or come up with a real plan for them to move. That’s what the community wants as far as I can tell.

So how did we get here? And where do we go?

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hartford-Area Parents Get Results of School Choice Lotteries: Joy and Frustration

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Hartford magnetHometowns of Students that Attend 1 Interdistrict Magnet School


 

Last week, parents in the Hartford area learned of the results of local and regional school choice lotteries. As our readers may already know, the Regional School Choice Office (RSCO) conducts a few lotteries each spring to determine school assignment in inter-district magnet school and the Open Choice. Hartford Public Schools also conducts a lottery/school assignment process for non-magnet schools within the city limits.

The RSCO school lottery is directly related to implementation of the Sheff v. O’Neill case settlement to desegregate Hartford’s schools through magnet schools and Open Choice. The local lottery for non-magnet themed schools was part of the local Hartford response to competition from heavily state-subsidized inter-district magnet schools operated by the Hartford Public Schools, Goodwin College, and the Capitol Region Education Council (CREC).

Below are comments from parents, mostly Black and Latin@ mothers, after learning the results of the RSCO and local school lotteries. There is both joy and frustration at the process.

These comments were obtained through multiple sources including private messages to this author, Facebook, and Twitter. They are scattered comments gathered through social networks and shared with the permission of the parents. Names of children, parents, and schools, as well as ages and locations, have been removed.

As the CT Mirror reported last year, the acceptance rate to magnet schools varied from 7% at the CREC Aerospace Academy to 100% at a number of schools such as HPS Classical Magnet. Roughly 30% of applicants received an acceptance in the first lottery last year. It’s important to remember that there is typically a second lottery and students can come off the wait list as late as September. So this first lottery isn’t the end of the process. (I’ll try to get new numbers for this year’s lottery.)

While there are concerns from parents about not getting into the magnet schools they desired, the locations, the process, and wait lists, I don’t see an overwhelming critique of magnet schools directly. Instead, I see a frustration with why their children can’t attend schools like the magnet schools, which are relatively better-resourced and racially and economically diverse schools. This frustration is, in part, the result of troubled State implementation of this desegregation program. This is a subject that I’ll be exploring in more depth and detail this summer.

Want to share your joy or frustration – or anything in between – about the Hartford-area school choice process? Send me a private message (robert.cotto@trincoll.edu) or comment below.

 

Parent Responses – Accepted

Parent 1: “I just got great news that (named removed) got accepted to the (name removed) Magnet School for This fall!!! So excited 😬😬”

Parent 2: “(Name removed) got into (school name removed) for (number removed) grade. It was her first choice.”

 

Parent Responses – Wait Listed

Parent 3: “(Name Removed) got wait listed!”

Parent 4: “I’ve been trying to get my daughter in for 5-6 years she’s been wait listed every year just found out today she’s been wait listed yet again I just don’t understand the process and will she ever have a chance? They say it’s random but I feel like kids from certain areas or with siblings already in get preference.”

Parent 5:

Comment 1: “So disappointed my baby didn’t get into a magnet again this year… Waiting list again!! I guess private school it is…

Comment 2: After seeing these numbers in even more discouraged, not liking this whole lot try business I’ve never been lucky to get anything for free so I guess I’ll start saving to either move out of Hartford and back to West Hartford or pay for private school! 😖😖😖”

Parent 6: “Hello I am a mother of a student in the hartford school system. He is in the (number removed) grade and he attends school at (school name removed) elementary. I have been trying to get him into a different school for the past three years. I have had no success in getting him into a different school. He is a very smart artistic kid who needs to go to a school that he can expand on his artistic skills and I have been completely unsuccessful in getting him into a school of that type. It is extremely stressful that he can’t get into anything like that. He is having behavioral problems because of this. It’s not fair that I am a resident of hartford and my son can’t get into a school of his choice in the city that he lives in. Also we live on the (cardinal direction removed) end of hartford and he goes to school on the (cardinal direction removed) end of Hartford that is a problem I would rather him go on the (cardinal direction removed) end and I can’t get that either. I’m tried (sic) of this lottery its (sic) a joke and they are treating the parents and children of the city of Hartford unfairly. I have run out of options as far as my son and another school that   He can attend because once again he has not gotten into a school of his choice.”

Parent 7: “School lottery results are in. No choice for Hartford residents. One child still not accepted into her neighborhood school, even though she was #1, one year, & #14 another year. To top off the suspicion of a corrupt so called school lottery, she has neighborhood & sibling preference. Another child applied for every possible choice, Hartford Public Schools, Crec, Suburban school…. Guess what! This child was not accepted in any school, not even his neighborhood school. I understand that most Hartford residents are poor & have little or no education. I understand that this is why we get treated unjustly & people get away with it. We do not have the money or the power to fight this injustice. Right now I write because I am pst about this. There is unlawful activity & corruption going on with this so called school lottery, RSCO”