The way Connecticut funds education is broken.
For decades, where a student lives and where they go to school have determined the education funding they receive, and limited the opportunities they have for success in and out of the classroom.
This approach has resulted in severe funding inequities, created one of the largest opportunity gaps in the country, and produced an unjust system where thousands of Connecticut students are deprived of the resources and services they need.
Connecticut students deserve better. They deserve a comprehensive solution that will meet their academic and social-emotional needs, reduce the alarming economic and racial disparities in education funding, and provide the vital resources and stability their teachers, schools, and communities are entitled to.
Connecticut families deserve a solution that will fund all public school students based on their learning needs, increase transparency in education funding by simplifying our state’s current tangled web of funding formulas, and finally deliver the equitable education funding our students have long been promised but have yet to receive.
Connecticut deserves a student-centered funding system that works for all students, all schools, and all regions of the state.
This legislative session, the General Assembly has a chance to pass such an education funding system with H.B. 5283.
Currently before the Education Committee, H.B. 5283 builds off the significant progress legislative leadership and members of the Appropriations and Education Committees have made over the past few years to help move our state closer to equitable education funding for all public school students.
H.B. 5283 is a comprehensive, thoughtful, and independently analyzed approach to equitably funding Connecticut’s public schools. If passed, H.B. 5283 would fix the state’s current complex and disjointed way of funding public schools, make significant strides in reducing the state’s economic and racial funding gaps, and fully and fairly fund all public school students based on their learning needs.
H.B. 5283 would finally deliver the equitable education funding students, parents, teachers, and communities across Connecticut have been advocating for by:
- Funding all public school students based on their learning needs;
- Fully funding the ECS grant, which supports all local school districts;
- Fully funding public schools of choice; and
- Giving districts the financial stability to make meaningful, long-term investments in resources such as teachers, counselors and school psychiatrists, and student support services and programs.
These steps will not only significantly reduce the $700+ million economic and racial funding gaps that have negatively impacted generations of students — many of whom are students of color in our state’s highest-need communities — they will also help ensure all students receive a high-quality education no matter their socio-economic status, where they live, or what type of public school they attend.
Additionally, the student-centered funding system proposed in H.B. 5283 would complement and strengthen the settlement that was conditionally reached in the Sheff v. O’Neill court case in late January, and would not interfere with any of the settlement’s terms.
The student-centered funding system proposed in H.B. 5283 would not only fulfill the terms of the Sheff settlement by providing essential funding to Hartford-area students attending school choice programs, but it would also meet the needs of the hundreds of thousands of students across the state. H.B. 5283 would help students outside the Hartford region, as well as those attending traditional city school districts in the Hartford region, such as Hartford Public Schools or New Britain Public Schools, who do not benefit directly from the Sheff settlement.
Simply put, H.B. 5283 provides ALL of Connecticut’s public school students the full, equitable education funding they need and deserve. It puts our state on a path toward erasing the economic and racial disparities in education funding, it ends the tangled web of formulas disconnected from student needs, and it firmly puts students at the center of education funding policy.
It’s time for the General Assembly to finish the important and transformational work it has made over the past five years and pass a student-centered funding system that finally delivers on the promise of equitable and adequate education funding for all public school students.
Authors are the executive directors for member organizations of the Education Justice Now Coalition, which is a diverse group of education policy organizations who have come together to fight for equitable education funding for all students, and to end Connecticut’s discriminatory education funding system.
Lisa Hammersley, School and State Finance Project
Daniel Pearson, Educators for Excellence
Jamilah Prince-Stewart, FaithActs for Education
Subira Gordon, Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN)
Ruben Felipe, Connecticut Charter Schools Association