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Judge Throws Out a State’s Entire School Program

September 9, 2016
Plain English Version
State Capital, Hartford, Connecticut.

State Capital, Hartford, Connecticut.

Connecticut is part of New England. It is a good state to live in. It is home to Yale University. Some of its public school students do quite well on national reading and math tests.

But there is another side. Students who come from low-income homes do not do so well.

School reformers have filed lawsuits in many states. Most of the time, they want the states to increase the amount of money for education. They want the new money to go to the poorer districts.

A judge in Connecticut recently agreed. He said much more money in schools is needed to assure a good education for all students. He went one big step further. He said the state must change and improve its entire education program!

It took the judge two hours to read his ruling from the bench. The lawsuit has been ongoing for ten years. An observer said they were expecting a school funding decision. The judge issued a school reform ruling.

The judge said graduation rates mean nothing. Students must be able to read at least when they leave school

He said teacher evaluations mean nothing. How could there be good teacher ratings when so many students fail? Why test students if they are not learning?

The judge was also critical of the special education programs targeted to handicapped students.

Confusion followed the ruling of the judge. He said the attorney general should come back within 180 days with a plan to solve the problems. He did not say who should write the new plan.

State and local officials face real challenges. What is taught in the schools is up to the state. Some education funds are raised through local property taxes. Teacher’s union contracts are not the same in different districts.

The governor said he knew “we have to improve outcomes… we need to take bold action… we know there is more work to do.”

An expert said that finding money for changes would be the easiest part.

If Connecticut can come up with a new program in six months, that would be something to write about.

Source: The New York Times September 7, 2016

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