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Judge Calls Out Huge Wealth Gap in This State’s Schools

By Victor Trammell

A court ruling in Connecticut has garnered national news coverage due to the influence a judge’s decision had on public education in the Constitution State.

A lawsuit filed by a coalition of education funding advocates operating in Connecticut brought this case to light. The lawsuit argued that the gross funding inequalities between well-to-do and financially strapped public school districts was unlawful. Shockingly, a Hartford District Superior Court judge ruled in favor of the advocacy group.

According to Commonweal Magazine, Judge Thomas Moukawsher (pictured) read his final ruling on this matter word for word over a period of three hours straight from the bench. “[Connecticut’s education funding system] has left rich school districts to flourish and poor school districts to flounder,” Moukawsher said.

“Allow[ing] rich towns to raid money desperately needed by poor towns makes a mockery of the state’s constitutional duty to provide adequate educational opportunities to all students,” he continued.

The so-called academic achievement gap in Connecticut between children in urban and suburban school districts is bigger there than it is in any other state in America. Over 80 percent of children in suburban Connecticut schools currently meet the minimum academic requirements for English tests.

However, in urban public school districts across Connecticut, only 30 percent of children are meeting the minimum academic requirements for basic English testing. Common Weal Magazine contributing editor Rand Richards Cooper also referred to another groundbreaking court case, which was centered on the issue of funding fairness in public education.

“The precursor to the current [Moukawsher] ruling is another one, Sheff v. O’Neill, that made national waves two decades ago. Filed in 1989, that suit charged that racial segregation – Hartford public schools at the time were nearly 97% minority — violated the constitutional guarantee I mentioned above,” Cooper wrote.

Unfortunately, other U.S. such as Kansas are currently dealing with the same problems, as ultra-conservative, predominantly Republican state legislatures are mandating unconstitutional education funding policies. These policies are giving suburban school districts unfair financial advantages over poorer urban ones.

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