Crux of Connecticut Judge’s Grim Ruling: Schools Are Broken
Kate Zernike has a grim report in the NY Times:
When a Connecticut judge threw out the state’s school financing system as unconstitutional this week, his unsparing 90-page ruling read and resonated like a cry from the heart on the failings of American public education.
Judge Thomas G. Moukawsher of State Superior Court in Hartford was scathing: He criticized “uselessly perfect teacher evaluations” that found “virtually every teacher in the state” proficient or exemplary, while a third of students in many of the poorest communities cannot read even at basic levels. He attacked a task force charged with setting meaningful high school graduation requirements for how its “biggest thought on how to fix the problem turned out to be another task force,” and called it “a kind of a spoof.”
Though his ruling was about Connecticut, he spoke to a larger nationwide truth: After the decades of lawsuits about equity and adequacy in education financing, after federal efforts like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, after fights over the Common Core standards and high-stakes testing and the tug of war between charter schools and community schools, the stubborn achievement gaps between rich and poor, minority and white students persist.
Too many American high school graduates are “let down by patronizing and illusory degrees,” Judge Moukawsher wrote. And too many decisions and too much debate about schools seem, as he wrote, “completely disconnected to the teaching of children.”
Judge Moukawsher’s decision in the case, Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding v. Rell, which has been making its way through the courts for more than a decade, did not say money does not matter. But it was a strikingly blunt way of saying what many people feel: The system is broken. . .