OPINION BY REP. LIVVY FLOREN
The recent ruling by a judge on the State Superior Court bench, and the subsequent appeal to the State Supreme Court have served to up the wattage of the bright white light that has been shining for years on the Education Cost Sharing (ECS) formula. The adage: “Doing nothing is not an option … because you never know when you’re done” certainly applies to the many attempts that have been made – and have failed — to improve the equity of public education.
What are we doing in the General assembly to reach the goal of quality education for all of our Connecticut students? For starters, we are trying very hard to make sure that all 169 cities and towns get a fair share of education aid. There should be a more equitable distribution, and special education mandates should be paid for by the convening authority, usually the federal government. We should be crafting a new funding mechanism that takes into consideration property taxes and success rates – rewarding academically achieving schools and returning a fair percentage of money to the districts where taxes were collected.
With that said, merely throwing money at educational problems is not the solution. Accountability is necessary, as is a culture of parental involvement in the learning process. Creativity is needed to address teacher certification, retirement, housing and transportation. We also need to confront the complex societal problems that our public schools reflect, exemplifying yet another situation where creative solutions must triumph over short-term financial band aids.
Legislators are all in agreement – Republicans and Democrats from urban, suburban and rural districts – that an ecumenical, bipartisan effort must be made to rectify an egregiously unfair ECS formula.
However, as Woody Allen says, “The lion and the lamb may lie down together, but the lamb won’t get much sleep.”