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Conn. High Court Says Students Have Right to Quality Education

From guest blogger Dakarai I. Aarons:

Connecticut's students are constitutionally guaranteed the right to a college- and career-ready education, the state's supreme court said today, opening the path to a lawsuit that could change the state's funding formula.

"[W]e conclude that article... of the Connecticut constitution guarantees
Connecticut's public school students educational standards and resources suitable to participate in democratic institutions, and to prepare them to attain productive employment and otherwise to contribute to the state's economy, or to progress on to higher education," the Connecticut Supreme Court wrote in its opinion released today.

The court's ruling overturned a lower court's 2007 ruling that the court system could not address the issue of whether students were guaranteed a quality education because it was a public policy question in the purview of the state's lawmakers—the argument the state made to the lower court.

To address the question, the lower court wrote that it would have to make a whole series of rulings on things such as appropriate class sizes, quality level of preschools, textbooks, and the like.

The lower court also ruled that there was nothing in the state's Constitution, nor in the legislative record from the state's 1965 constitutional convention, that suggested lawmakers intended to establish a minimum standard of education when the right to a public education was explicitly added to the state's constitution.

That ruling was in response to a 2005 lawsuit brought against the state by the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding, which said the achievement gaps between richer and poorer towns called into question whether the state's education funding formula was providing an equitable education for all students.

The case is now expected to go to trial in light of today's state Supreme Court ruling, according to the coalition that brought the case.

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