As Connecticut awaits the decision by Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher on the educational equity funding lawsuit, let’s not forget that many of the children in Connecticut’s low-income school districts are starting school (that is, kindergarten) way behind in terms of the knowledge, skills and behaviors needed for elementary school and later academic success. Many are also behind in third grade reading and eighth grade math. And too many do not graduate. We have known that for years. If the goal is high school graduation and readiness for work and citizenship, trying to remediate students or the schools in our low-income districts at the end of this trajectory is way too late.
Before “raising the age” again, the State of Connecticut and its key justice agencies — DCF, DOC and the Judicial Branch including the Court Support Services Division — need to participate in an honest independent look at all of our current organizational structures for adjudicated youth. The purpose of this external review would be to examine creation of an independent Juvenile Justice Authority that is science-informed, takes a two-generation approach and is anchored in “evidence-based” policy, practice and programs. Clearly what we have now is not working well. Besides that, it is really expensive.