Home > Uncategorized > Connecticut Governor’s Funding Decision is Harbinger of ESSA’s Failures

Connecticut Governor’s Funding Decision is Harbinger of ESSA’s Failures

February 7, 2016

Diane Ravtich wrote a post with a link to an article by Jacqueline Rabe Thomas in Friday’s Connecticut Mirror titled “(Governor) Malloy: Increase Charter school, Cut Neighborhood School Funding”… which is a great way to frame the way funds flow. Fiscal conservatives— both Democrat neoliberals and Republican libertarians— claim to want decisions made at the local level, a claim that is overridden by their passion to run schools like a business. Fiscal conservative’s demand for efficiency in all government operations combined with their faith in market forces makes the model of deregulated charter schools appealing. Deregulate charters can provide the commodity of education much more cheaply than “government run” schools with their bureaucracies, unions, and legacy costs. Their faith in the market leads them to believe that if we break the stranglehold the government has on schools, we can lower taxes and introduce innovations that would otherwise wither on the vine. Branding the schools as “government run” helps the fiscal conservatives make their case… but labelling them as “neighborhood schools” makes it clear that by abandoning public education taxpayers are abandoning their control over what transpires within the four walls of their local institution and may lead to its demise.

The article itself is stomach turning. Mr. Malloy, in an effort to appease those in the legislature who complained bitterly when he markedly increased charter spending at the expense of public schools a year ago, promised to include an increase for public education in this years’ budget— a promise he rescinded. The State’s commissioner of education, an appointee of the Governor, defended the decision to cut public schools while adding millions to charters thusly:

“Those are kids that we made promises to. If we made a promise that a fourth grader is going to have a fifth grade to go to in the same school, then we need to keep that promise,” said Wentzell.

So, the kids in charter schools were promised the ability to continue in their school with the same amount of money and that promise is more important than the requirement that all the other children in the state deserve more funding to sustain the programs in place? And, as I am certain the Governor and the legislature realize, when the state education funds are cut the children who suffer most are those who live in towns and cities that cannot raise local property taxes because they do not have the economic wherewithal to do so. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

One last note: Thanks to ESSA, Malloy and his friends in the legislature get to make MORE decisions about the fate of public schools… and so do Walker, Brownback, Rauner, Kasich, Cuomo, Christie, Abbot…. you get the picture… The federal government is aiding and abetting this distortion of funding that is exacerbating the economic divide that cripples our nation’s progress, a distortion they once were committed to fixing.

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