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Historic Education Finance Case Starts Today

DSC01377There’s new hope for all Connecticut children to receive the adequate and equitable funding necessary for a high-quality education as the case CCJEF v. Rell goes to trial today in Hartford Superior Court. The case has been 11 years in the making—beginning when schoolchildren and their parents together with the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (CCJEF) filed suit against the state of Connecticut for failing to adequately and equitably fund public schools.

As a result of the state’s education funding failure, CCJEF has argued that many children have been denied the opportunity to receive a high-quality education, continue their education at the post-secondary level, and secure meaningful employment. The coalition also argues that minority students have been disproportionately, negatively impacted by the state’s funding system.

“As a founding member of CCJEF we are proud to see the case come before the courts for adjudication,” said CEA President Sheila Cohen. “We hope to finally see all Connecticut children be assured an adequate and equitable education as required by the state constitution.”

CCJEF is a statewide coalition of towns and cities, local boards of education, statewide professional education associations—including CEA—as well as 25 students and their parents. Member communities represent nearly half of Connecticut’s public school students, including three quarters of students who are minorities, from low-income households, and whose families do not speak English as their primary language.

The law firms of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, the Yale Law School Education Adequacy Project, and David Rosen & Associates PC are providing pro bono legal services to CCJEF and named schoolchildren plaintiffs and their parents.

In its 2010 pretrial ruling, the Connecticut Supreme Court specified that, under the Connecticut Constitution, all public school students have the right to an effective and meaningful education, the standard for which is “dynamic” and dependent on the “demands of an evolving world.”

Under Connecticut’s current system for funding public education, communities must rely heavily on local property taxes to fund their public schools. Districts with lower property tax bases are unable to provide students with the necessary resources and local taxpayers are excessively burdened with high property taxes.

The trial will begin at 10 a.m. today. You can watch it live on CT-N by clicking here.  The trial is expected to last through the spring.

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