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My Left Nutmeg

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My Left Nutmeg

Wealthy, White, privileged, male from Greenwich tells Hartford - Make me your leader

by: ctblogger

Mon Jul 27, 2015 at 10:19:00 AM EDT

Cross post from Jon Pelto's Wait What?

UPDATED to include Bronin's time in Hartford in when he served as aide to the President of Hartford Financial Services

Meet Luke Bronin.

Luke moved to Hartford from Washington just over two years ago.

[Luke had previously lived in Hartford for period in 2007-2008 when he had served as the top aide to the President of the Hartford Financial Services company]

Luke grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Luke attended the exclusive Greenwich Day School and then Philip Exeter Academy; the nation's most elite preparatory boarding school.  Bronin went on to get degrees from Yale University, Oxford University and then returned to Yale School of Law for to get his law degree.

With no municipal or elected experience, Luke now says he is ready to "bring new leadership" to Harford, the poorest city of its size in the United States.

In a city in which more than 80% of the residents are "minority," the notion that a White, privileged, wealthy, young man from Greenwich would move to Hartford, Connecticut and run for Mayor might raise some eyebrows.

So would the fact that Luke Bronin, who has never run for office, raised more than $660,000 in first six months of his campaign, a significant amount of that money coming from the white, business elite who may work in Hartford, but live far, far away from the city and its troubles.

But perhaps the most telling development of all is that with the Hartford Democratic Town Committee set to meet tomorrow, July 27, 2015 to select their nominee for mayor, Luke Bronin appears on the verge of getting enough support from Hartford's leading political players that the Democratic Party will jettison its Hispanic, incumbent Mayor, Pedro Segarra, and hand the Democratic nomination to the newcomer.

Back on January 15, 2013, Governor Dannel Malloy named Luke A. Bronin to replace Andrew McDonald as the governor's chief counsel.

At the time, Bronin announced that he was "happy to be moving back" to Connecticut and would be locating in Hartford.  Unmentioned was the news that Bronin and his wife had purchased a dilapidated Bushnell Park Brownstone seven months earlier and were part-way through renovating it.

Less than two years later, Malloy's Office announced that Bronin was leaving the post as Malloy's legal advisor.  As the Hartford Courant explained at the time, Luke Bronin, who is "strongly considering" a run for mayor of Hartford, will join the law firm Hinckley Allen.

On January 15, 2015 exactly two years from the date Malloy announced Bronin would leave Washington for Connecticut, Bronin announced that he would be challenging Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra for the mayor.

The move surprised many since Mayor Pedro Segarra has worked tirelessly on Governor Malloy's behalf and not only had he appointed Bronin's wife to serve on Hartford's powerful Planning and Zoning Commissioner, but despite her being new to the City, made her the Chair of the PZC where she helped push through the new Hartford Stadium Project.

But Luke said he was running and compared to Hartford's per capita income of $16,610, the Bronin's income must place him among the wealthiest 1% in the Capital city.

Certainly his prestigious education background and golden-boy credentials put him in a league by himself.

Bronin's state-of-the-art website, developed by a Washington D.C. consulting firm that built Governor Malloy's campaign website and has also done work for the Connecticut Democratic Party, features a "Meet Luke" section in which the viewer will be informed by pictures of Luke Bronin on the steps of his Hartford Brownstone, a picture of Luke in full military battle attire and the ever-present picture of Luke surrounded by his attractive family.  (Mayor Segarra, whose spouse is male, has pictures that are somewhat different).

The Meet Luke bio explains;

Luke is a father, a husband, a veteran, an attorney, and a committed public servant - who is running for Mayor to get Hartford working again - for all of Hartford's residents.

In this day and age when people often "pad their resumes" or go so far as to attempt to "change" their race or ethnicity to gain the upper hand, Luke Bronin's website, interestedly, makes absolutely no mention, at all, of his educational background.

While dozens of Bronin bios on the Internet celebrate his elite educational achievements, there is not a single word on his campaign website biography about where he went to school or that he is new to Hartford.

While there is mention of his work fighting "Al Qaeda" and "rogue regimes like Iran and Syria, and international organized crime," there is no mention that he graduated with a law degree from Yale University in 2006, or got a degree from England's venerable Oxford University in 2003, or a Philosophy degree in 2001 from Yale.  He even fails to mention he graduated from Philips Exeter Academy, the most prestigious boarding school in the nation, or that he also graduated from the Greenwich Day School, the very same institutions that educated President George H.W. Bush.

Bronin's pitch stays on the straight and narrow message that he is a "Man of the People" and simply arrived on this earth ready for battle for the "little people."

While the Bronin website goes into great detail about his previous occupations, there is no mention of the Greenwich Day School (Tuition starts at $33,500 for kindergarten and rises to $37,500 a year for the higher grades), Phillips Exeter Academy (With a cost of $48,000 a year, although that does include the $180 "Linen Fee") or that he spent ten years in the halls of Oxford and Yale.

In today's dollars, the cost of an education like that would be far more than the vast majority of Hartford residents will ever make in their lifetime... In fact, it is more than all the residents of entire Hartford neighborhoods earn.

There is certainly one thing you can say for Luke Bronin...he has been planning for his rise to power and stardom for a very long time.

Long before Luke Bronin announced that he was planning to become Hartford next mayor in January 2015, he had already reserved a plethora of website names, including;

ilikeluke.com

ilikeluke.net

ilikeluke.us

ilikeluke.org

Along with other sites he might need such as luckbronin.com, lukebronin.us, lukebronin.net and lukebronin.org.

All are now linked to his campaign website: http://lukebronin.com/

Most, if not all, of these sites were purchased when Bronin was still a kid at Yale University, where he collected the website names using his Yale University email and his Greenwich home address.

In total, Bronin appears to have reserved at least twenty three website names, the majority aimed at locking down any and all that he might want to use in his future political endeavors.

Although, at the time, it looks like he also purchased underpuppy.com and underpuppy.net, but one assumes that must have been for some unrelated project.

And then there is this...

While Bronin's early effort to buy up every "ilikeluke" website reveals the drive of the young politician, the more noteworthy tidbit may be that on January 12, 2015 - three days before Bronin announced that he was running for mayor- some "entity" purchased and locked up:

Ilikepedro.com

Ilikepedro.net

Ilikepedro.org

And that secret entity?  PERFECT PRIVACY, LLC, using Network Solutions LLC

And what do does one discover when looking up the various Ilikeluke and his other Luke Bronin campaign websites?  They are all managed by PERFECT PRIVACY, LLC, using Network Solutions LLC.

Yup, looks like Luke Bronin is so "sophisticated" that not only did he buy up websites that he might need to promote his own name, but before he even announced that he was running against Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, he bought up the websites Segarra might want to use.

Bronin's calculated effort to become Hartford's mayor is a powerful reminder that while hashtags like #blacklivesmatter continues to trending on Twitter,

#wealthywhiteprivilegedandmale is still a concept that is very much a part of the American political environment

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Malloy, Executive Powers, and thePolitics of Appeasement

by: ctblogger

Sun Jul 19, 2015 at 18:15:09 PM EDT

In preparation for the Connecticut General Assembly's 2015 constitutionally required veto session, Democratic legislative leaders announced yesterday that no votes would be taken on whether to sustain or override the nine bills vetoed by Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy during this year's legislative session.

The most noteworthy of the bills that the Democrats are unwilling to bring up for a vote is PA 15-176, which was House Bill 6977, AN ACT ESTABLISHING QUALIFICATIONS FOR THE COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION.

The legislation requires that any person serving as Connecticut's Commissioner of Education have an appropriate education degree and teaching experience.

The legislation arose in response to Governor Malloy's decision to name Stefan Pryor, a charter school founder and corporate education reform industry advocate, to be his first commissioner of education, despite the fact that Pryor had no educational experience.

Stefan Pryor's performance as Malloy's Education Commissioner led both Democrats and Republicans to call for legislation requiring future leaders of the state department of education to have the requisite education experience.

The General Assembly's Education Committee held a public hearing on House Bill #6977 and went on to pass the legislation by a vote of 32 - 0.

At no time did Malloy or his administration testify against the bill or publicly announce any opposition to the concept.

The bill went to pass the Connecticut State Senate by a vote of 36 - 0 and the Connecticut House of Representatives by a vote of 138-5.

In the end, only one Democratic legislator voted against the bill.

With its passage, HB6977 become Connecticut Public Act 15-176.

But despite the overwhelming level of support displayed for the bill by the Connecticut General Assembly, Governor Malloy, Executive Power and the Politics of Appeasement
Jul 18
jonpeltoConnecticut General Assembly, Democratic Legislators, Malloy Connecticut General Assembly, Democratic Legislators, Malloy 5 Comments

In preparation for the Connecticut General Assembly's 2015 constitutionally required veto session, Democratic legislative leaders announced yesterday that no votes would be taken on whether to sustain or override the nine bills vetoed by Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy during this year's legislative session.

The most noteworthy of the bills that the Democrats are unwilling to bring up for a vote is PA 15-176, which was House Bill 6977, AN ACT ESTABLISHING QUALIFICATIONS FOR THE COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION.

The legislation requires that any person serving as Connecticut's Commissioner of Education have an appropriate education degree and teaching experience.

The legislation arose in response to Governor Malloy's decision to name Stefan Pryor, a charter school founder and corporate education reform industry advocate, to be his first commissioner of education, despite the fact that Pryor had no educational experience.

Stefan Pryor's performance as Malloy's Education Commissioner led both Democrats and Republicans to call for legislation requiring future leaders of the state department of education to have the requisite education experience.

The General Assembly's Education Committee held a public hearing on House Bill #6977 and went on to pass the legislation by a vote of 32 - 0.

At no time did Malloy or his administration testify against the bill or publicly announce any opposition to the concept.

The bill went to pass the Connecticut State Senate by a vote of 36 - 0 and the Connecticut House of Representatives by a vote of 138-5.

In the end, only one Democratic legislator voted against the bill.

With its passage, HB6977 become Connecticut Public Act 15-176.

But despite the overwhelming level of support displayed for the bill by the Connecticut General Assembly, Governor Malloy vetoed the legislation.

And now, in a disturbing and rather pathetic effort to appease Governor Malloy, the Democratic leadership in the Senate and House has announced that, after speaking with the Democratic members of the two chambers, there will be no vote to override or sustain Governor Malloy's veto.

Instead, the bill will simply die.

To read about the bill go to: Malloy vetoes bill requiring that education commissioner have education experience, for news coverage about the decision not to even vote on Malloy's veto see: CT Dems shameful display of cowardice on Malloy's Education Veto (updated) and news coverage  at General Assembly Won't Override Malloy's Vetoes (CT Newsjunkie),   Democrats will not attempt to override Malloy vetoes (CT Mirror), No Veto Overrides Planned By Legislature (Hartford Courant)

The Democratic legislators' lame and unsettling decision to  not even allow a vote on whether to override Malloy's veto of AN ACT ESTABLISHING QUALIFICATIONS FOR THE COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION (PA 15-176) came as a shock to Connecticut's two teacher unions (the CEA and AFT-CT) who claimed ownership of the bill and used its passage as some strange indicator that their endorsement of Malloy's re-election effort was acceptable because he was now being taken to the "wood shed" for his historic abuse of teachers and the teaching profession.

But the underlying issue isn't about Malloy vs. the teacher unions or about whether Dannel Malloy's temper and thin skin led him to veto a bill, out of the blue, despite its nearly unanimous support.

The issue really isn't even about whether state government should or should not require that the commissioner of education have appropriate teaching experience.

The fundamental issue at stake is the result of the decision by the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly to prevent a vote on whether to override Malloy's veto.

The decision by the legislative branch to walk away from its duty to check and balance the executive branch reflects the growing politics of appeasement that has enveloped our political system and it is a situation that should be of concern to everyone across the political spectrum.

The foundation of the United States' system of government is the inclusion of the system of checks and balances to guard against unwarranted authority.  It is an inherent part of both the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Connecticut.

As James Madison wrote in Federalist Paper No. 47,

The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, selfappointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny."

(The Federalist No. 47: The Particular Structure of the New Government and the Distribution of Power Among Its Different Parts January 30, 1788)

In a 2006 Washington Monthly article on the danger of executive power, Bruce Fein wrote about Madison's concept explaining,

The most conservative principle of the Founding Fathers was distrust of unchecked power. Centuries of experience substantiated that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Men are not angels. Ambition must be made to counteract ambition to avert abuses or tyranny. The Constitution embraced a separation of powers to keep the legislative, executive, and judicial branches in equilibrium. As Edward Gibbon wrote in The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: 'The principles of a free constitution are irrevocably lost, when the legislative power is nominated by the executive.'"

"The principles of a free constitution are irrevocably lost, when the legislative power is nominated by the executive."

Governor Malloy is wrong to have vetoed the bill requiring that the person responsible for running the state department of education have educational experience.

But the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly have done a far greater disservice by refusing to even vote on Malloy's veto.  Their unwarranted decision to appease Malloy means that they have handed their constitutionally mandated legislative authority to the executive branch of government.

And that is something every Connecticut citizens should be very concerned about.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Have you no shame Gov. Chris Christie?

by: ctblogger

Fri Jul 17, 2015 at 16:47:15 PM EDT

UPDATE: Click here to learn about the life of Kevin Sutherland told by his family.

------

Words can't express my anger over Gov. Chris Christie's remarks regarding the tragic death of Kevin Sutherland.

Many people in the political scene know the Sutherland family and I'm certain I'm not alone when it comes to the extreme outrage I experienced when Gov. Christie decided to use Kevin's tragic murder for cheap political points.

Today, Congressman Jim Himes released the following statement regarding Christie's lack of common decency (Kevin was a intern for Congressman Himes).

My deepest condolences goes out to the Sutherland family during this time of grief...the last thing this great family needs is some political piece of shit asshole smearing Kevin's name and memory...

Congressman Himes statement:

Yesterday, New Jersey governor Chris Christie gave a speech on criminal justice reform and took the opportunity to attack the policies of his political enemies in a despicable way: politicizing the deaths of two young people, Kevin Sutherland and Kathryn Steinle, saying the policies of the cities they lived in failed them.

Kevin Sutherland was a friend of mine. He was an intern on my campaign and in my Congressional office. I am friends with his parents. By speaking about Kevin Sutherland and his family in this way, Christie has once again shown himself nothing more than a pure opportunist with no sense of decency and a severely distorted idea of right and wrong.

To use Kevin's death to score political points is vile. Kevin was empathetic, kind, and wanted to create a better America and world by lifting up those around him. The fearmongering and thinly veiled racism evident in Christie's speech reveal that he knew nothing about Kevin and his family or what they believed in, and he should be ashamed. Although, at this point, I find myself doubting if shame is something he's capable of.

This is made more terrible by the ridiculous hypocrisy of Christie criticizing San Francisco and Washington, DC for their violence, when he has slashed state aid to cities, cut funding for neighborhood revitalization, called for the elimination of Urban Enterprise Zones, and led a budget that has caused police layoffs. And what's the result? Crime went up under his watch in New Jersey's 6 largest cities, including Camden, where he was giving the speech.

If Christie wants to spout his particular brand of hate-filled nonsense to whomever is unfortunate enough to be in earshot, that's his right. But when he uses the memory of a beloved friend and son in such a grossly disrespectful way, it's our duty to stop listening, move on to more serious topics and people, and continue the work that Kevin believed in.

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Thursday roundup

by: ctblogger

Thu Jul 16, 2015 at 09:13:12 AM EDT

The latest...
  • Thumbs up for Kevin Lembo!
    It's the second open government website state Comptroller Kevin Lembo has launched and it's the first that allows the public to view - without having to download clunky PDF files - how the state is spending its budget.

    The new site called "OpenBudget" allows the public to track to the line item how much money the state is spending in specific areas of the budget. The site allows anyone to take revenues and expenditures and compare them in real time to what had been budgeted. It also includes data from previous years, so users can look back at how much spending or revenue has increased or decreased in certain areas.

    "It's been a priority of mine since I've arrived here to open the state's books in a more comprehensive way," Lembo said. "To make sure data was available to policymakers, the media, academics, and others so they can make their own determinations about where we are and where we should be going."

    OpenBudget, like "Open Connecticut", allows users to export the data and perform their own analysis on it. Lembo launched Open Connecticut in 2013 and upgraded it in 2014. The information available on the "Open Connecticut" through a function called "Open Checkbook" is updated nightly and it allows users to see how much the state is spending on a specific vendor.


  • Sad.
    while overall crime has dropped both statewide and nationally, the capital city of Hartford is going against those trends with a recent spike in murders and shootings..

    With 17 homicides so far this year, Hartford has the most murders of any major city in New England - ahead of Boston, Worcester, Providence, Bridgeport, New Haven, and others.


  • No comment.

    Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is declining to take sides in Bridgeport's mayoral battle, in which former mayor Joseph Ganim -- who left office and went to federal prison after he was convicted of corruption -- seeks to wrest the Democratic nomination from incumbent Bill Finch.

    Ganim was mayor of Bridgeport from 1991 until 2003, when he was convicted of receiving money, meals, clothing, and other bribes from city contractors.

    He announced in early April that he would challenge Finch, who has been mayor since 2007, for the Democratic nomination.

    But a spokesman for Malloy declined to comment Monday when asked what he thought of Ganim's campaign and whether the governor's administration would continue the relationship it currently has with the city if the felon should get elected.


  • OVERRIDE!
    The Connecticut General Assembly expects to convene Monday for a one-day veto session, but legislative leaders expressed uncertainty Wednesday about whether lawmakers would attempt their first override of a veto by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

    The state's largest teachers' union, the Connecticut Education Association, is lobbying lawmakers to override Malloy's veto of a bill that would require education commissioners to have significant experience as a teacher and school administrator.

    The legislation, sought by labor unions, was a reaction to teachers' displeasure with Malloy's first commissioner, Stefan Pryor, whose primary education credential was as a co-founder of a charter school.

    Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, and House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, who will make the call about asking their members to deliver what would be seen as a rebuke to Malloy, gave no public encouragement to the CEA on Wednesday.

    Both indicated they expected to consult with their rank and file by telephone. If they were leaning toward an override, it would be more likely for them to call legislators to Hartford for a caucus before the veto session.

    "We're still discussing it with our individual caucus members," Sharkey said.

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State's most vulnerable children get their day in court

by: ctblogger

Tue Jul 14, 2015 at 16:17:20 PM EDT

Cross post from Jon Pelto's Wait What?

Wendy Lecker is one of Connecticut's most outspoken education advocates.  As senior attorney at the Education Law Center, she has helped lead critically important school finance lawsuits.  Wendy Lecker is also a column list for the Hearst Connecticut Media Group.  The week she reports on Connecticut's vital CCJEF v. Rell School Funding Lawsuit.

Once supporters for ensuring Connecticut has a fair and equitable school funding formula, Governor Dannel Malloy and Attorney General George Jepson are now leading the effort to ensure that Connecticut's public school students and Connecticut's local property taxpayers don't get the help they need and deserve.

Wendy Lecker explains,

Connecticut's elected officials have steadfastly refused to fix our school finance system, which leaves schools underfunded and local property taxpayers overburdened. Public school students and local property taxpayers will finally have their day in court when Connecticut's school funding case, CCJEF v. Rell, starts trial in October. It is now important to understand some of the basic tenets in school finance.

First, all children have the constitutional right to school resources sufficient for an education enabling them to participate in democratic institutions, attain productive employment, or progress to higher education.

Second, it costs more to educate some children than others. Children living in poverty often require more services than children who do not. The stresses associated with poverty affect brain development, often leaving children with behavioral and cognitive difficulties. As a result, schools serving poor children need specific resources, such as: social workers, behavioral therapists, psychologists, learning specialists, small classes.

Children learning English require more services than those already proficient. The services necessary to help a child learn English are different than those needed to support a child who lives in poverty. Similarly, children with disabilities require additional services.

Third, some municipalities cannot raise as much revenue as others, and therefore need more state school aid. Often, those municipalities serve the highest concentration of the neediest - and therefore most expensive to educate - children.

These cornerstones of school finance are universally accepted and understood. They form the bases of school funding systems across the nation. They undergird the CCJEF plaintiffs' case. Essentially, the plaintiffs claim Connecticut has underfunded its public schools in large part because the state school finance system does not accurately account for the cost of education in general, the cost of educating students with additional needs or a municipality's capacity to raise revenue.

CCJEF's school finance experts calculated the gap between what the state provides in school aid and what our schools and children need to be about $2 billion; based on 2004 standards, costs and demographics.

What does this massive school funding shortfall mean? Schools serving our neediest children lack essential academic resources: teachers, reading specialists, guidance counselors, social workers, reasonable class size, well-equipped libraries, academic intervention services, computers, preschool, etc.

Connecticut's leaders have gone to great effort - and expense - to ignore these three basic tenets of school finance.

Since the CCJEF case was filed in 2005 - when then-Mayor Dannel Malloy of Stamford was a plaintiff - our leaders have convened commissions, task forces and ad hoc committees ostensibly to study school funding. They did this without consulting real school finance experts. These gimmicks provided the appearance politicians were doing something to fix the problem.

In reality, our leaders have done next to nothing. The state owes our neediest districts up to $7,000 dollars per pupil. However, from 2012-13 to 2014-15, the average increase in Education Cost Sharing (ECS) aid to our neediest received was $642 per pupil.

The only recent change politicians made to our ECS formula undermined fair funding. The legislature removed from the ECS formula the ELL weight: i.e. the adjustment in the formula that attempted to account for the cost of educating ELL students. This move is contrary to sound education finance policy and is particularly absurd in a state with a growing ELL population.

Connecticut's inaction on school finance is why our small wealthy state figures prominently in a national report on financially disadvantaged districts. Connecticut is ranked fifth in the nation in the percentage of children enrolled in financially disadvantaged districts, with more than 13 percent of our children in these districts. The state with the highest concentration, Illinois, has 25 percent.

At the same time the state has done nothing to help poor districts, it has spent millions on unsuccessful attempts to have the CCJEF case dismissed.

In the latest budget season, the state made matters worse. State figures reveal that the largest increase our financially distressed districts will receive in 2016 is about $100 per pupil. Windham will receive an increase of only $19 per pupil. Most needy districts will get no increase for 2017.

At this pathetic rate, it will take more than 20 years before the state makes up the gap in school funding.

In human terms, that means two generations of children will go through school without adequate resources to help them learn, losing years of learning they cannot recapture.

Year after year Connecticut's elected officials have been unresponsive to the educational needs of our most vulnerable children. In October, they will have to answer for that in court.

You can read and comment on Wendy Lecker's original piece at: http://m.stamfordadvocate.com/...

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

State's most vulnerable children get their day in court

by: ctblogger

Tue Jul 14, 2015 at 16:17:18 PM EDT

Cross post from Jon Pelto's Wait What?

Wendy Lecker is one of Connecticut's most outspoken education advocates.  As senior attorney at the Education Law Center, she has helped lead critically important school finance lawsuits.  Wendy Lecker is also a column list for the Hearst Connecticut Media Group.  The week she reports on Connecticut's vital CCJEF v. Rell School Funding Lawsuit.

Once supporters for ensuring Connecticut has a fair and equitable school funding formula, Governor Dannel Malloy and Attorney General George Jepson are now leading the effort to ensure that Connecticut's public school students and Connecticut's local property taxpayers don't get the help they need and deserve.

Wendy Lecker explains,

Connecticut's elected officials have steadfastly refused to fix our school finance system, which leaves schools underfunded and local property taxpayers overburdened. Public school students and local property taxpayers will finally have their day in court when Connecticut's school funding case, CCJEF v. Rell, starts trial in October. It is now important to understand some of the basic tenets in school finance.

First, all children have the constitutional right to school resources sufficient for an education enabling them to participate in democratic institutions, attain productive employment, or progress to higher education.

Second, it costs more to educate some children than others. Children living in poverty often require more services than children who do not. The stresses associated with poverty affect brain development, often leaving children with behavioral and cognitive difficulties. As a result, schools serving poor children need specific resources, such as: social workers, behavioral therapists, psychologists, learning specialists, small classes.

Children learning English require more services than those already proficient. The services necessary to help a child learn English are different than those needed to support a child who lives in poverty. Similarly, children with disabilities require additional services.

Third, some municipalities cannot raise as much revenue as others, and therefore need more state school aid. Often, those municipalities serve the highest concentration of the neediest - and therefore most expensive to educate - children.

These cornerstones of school finance are universally accepted and understood. They form the bases of school funding systems across the nation. They undergird the CCJEF plaintiffs' case. Essentially, the plaintiffs claim Connecticut has underfunded its public schools in large part because the state school finance system does not accurately account for the cost of education in general, the cost of educating students with additional needs or a municipality's capacity to raise revenue.

CCJEF's school finance experts calculated the gap between what the state provides in school aid and what our schools and children need to be about $2 billion; based on 2004 standards, costs and demographics.

What does this massive school funding shortfall mean? Schools serving our neediest children lack essential academic resources: teachers, reading specialists, guidance counselors, social workers, reasonable class size, well-equipped libraries, academic intervention services, computers, preschool, etc.

Connecticut's leaders have gone to great effort - and expense - to ignore these three basic tenets of school finance.

Since the CCJEF case was filed in 2005 - when then-Mayor Dannel Malloy of Stamford was a plaintiff - our leaders have convened commissions, task forces and ad hoc committees ostensibly to study school funding. They did this without consulting real school finance experts. These gimmicks provided the appearance politicians were doing something to fix the problem.

In reality, our leaders have done next to nothing. The state owes our neediest districts up to $7,000 dollars per pupil. However, from 2012-13 to 2014-15, the average increase in Education Cost Sharing (ECS) aid to our neediest received was $642 per pupil.

The only recent change politicians made to our ECS formula undermined fair funding. The legislature removed from the ECS formula the ELL weight: i.e. the adjustment in the formula that attempted to account for the cost of educating ELL students. This move is contrary to sound education finance policy and is particularly absurd in a state with a growing ELL population.

Connecticut's inaction on school finance is why our small wealthy state figures prominently in a national report on financially disadvantaged districts. Connecticut is ranked fifth in the nation in the percentage of children enrolled in financially disadvantaged districts, with more than 13 percent of our children in these districts. The state with the highest concentration, Illinois, has 25 percent.

At the same time the state has done nothing to help poor districts, it has spent millions on unsuccessful attempts to have the CCJEF case dismissed.

In the latest budget season, the state made matters worse. State figures reveal that the largest increase our financially distressed districts will receive in 2016 is about $100 per pupil. Windham will receive an increase of only $19 per pupil. Most needy districts will get no increase for 2017.

At this pathetic rate, it will take more than 20 years before the state makes up the gap in school funding.

In human terms, that means two generations of children will go through school without adequate resources to help them learn, losing years of learning they cannot recapture.

Year after year Connecticut's elected officials have been unresponsive to the educational needs of our most vulnerable children. In October, they will have to answer for that in court.

You can read and comment on Wendy Lecker's original piece at: http://m.stamfordadvocate.com/...

Discuss :: (0 Comments)
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