Hwang: Education funding ruling shines bright light on need for fairness, equity

Senator Tony Hwang

Sen. Tony Hwang

Below is an op-ed written by State Senator Tony Hwang who represents the 28th District, which includes Easton, Fairfield, Newtown, Weston and Westport.

An opportunity to improve the quality of Connecticut education.

That’s how we should view the Superior Court education funding ruling and the Attorney General’s current appeal of that decision to the Connecticut Supreme Court.

And while a Supreme Court decision might not be rendered until a year from now, that should not stop us, as lawmakers, from debating and examining what can and should be done to improve the state’s broken education funding system.

Protect Funding. A top priority must be to protect towns like Easton, Fairfield, Newtown, Weston and Westport from having education funding taken away. The system should not be about winners and losers. It should not be about political meddling to help one municipality while hurting another. The funding system should be logical, predictable and transparent. Local officials should be able to plan on what their annual state funding should be. There should be no last minute, eleventh hour surprises at the State Capitol. The formula should be simple, fair and easy to explain. It should be free from any efforts to misdirect money.

Help the Vulnerable. In recent years, money has been taken away from Bridgeport – home to some of our poorest schools. That’s not fair, that’s shameful and that only hurts our overall efforts to lift up our cities. We must remedy that wrong.

Defend the Disabled. Our laws guarantee every student the right to an education. Disabled students have a right to educational opportunities just as much as any child does. That right cannot be limited in any way, and we must make sure it never is.

Use Best Practices. We should look to other states which have recently made major fundamental education reforms. What is working for students in those states? What isn’t? How can Connecticut build upon those successes and avoid the pitfalls? How can Connecticut become the national role model for successful, sustainable, reliable education policy?

Stability, stability stability. What we are faced with is the opportunity to put forth a thoughtful, enduring, fix to our education policies. The current formula cries out for reform – reform that hasn’t taken place in three decades. Reform which will put an end to the annual uncertainty at the municipal budgetary level. Injecting stability into the process will have long-lasting benefits which will go well beyond the necessary educational fixes and bring certainty to the local budgets which determine our property taxes.

So let the discussion begin. May it be respectful, measured, and free from rhetoric. May it focus on common goals which unite us.

This is our state. These are Connecticut’s children. Together, we can better serve future generations and future Connecticut leaders.

Let’s get this right — for them.

Sen. Hwang may be reached at [email protected] and at 800 842-1421. On the web: SenatorHwang.com.

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