By Brian Saucier
Windham, CT voters will head to the polls for the fourth time on Tuesday 9/27 to vote for the BOE budget, already voted down three times this year. Well, about 10% of them will head to the polls … and the vote will be close to 50/50, but that 5% counts as a majority, don’t you worry!
A recent CT court decision provides a fresh perspective to consider as we dedicated few head to the polls.
I call it fresh because a judge has managed, in 90 pages, to piss off nearly everyone in the state’s education establishment power structure:
- The Malloy administration is appealing the decision because Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher stepped all over their turf.
- The legislature is in (mostly) feigned shock – feigned because Congress and state legislatures have been all too happy to hand over power to the other two branches of government for a century or so.
- The Plaintiffs of the case are appealing because they want boatloads more money spent on education in poor urban districts, but the judge was honest enough to point out the state already spends boatloads on education in poor urban districts.
- Teachers unions are in huff because the judge had the audacity to stipulate that teachers’ employment terms should be based on results (like the rest of us), and not simply showing up for 30 years.
- Special Education advocates are equally huffed up by the judge’s cruelty in deciding that towns don’t have to spend “staggering” sums on educating any and all special education students, regardless of the impact that spending will have on other students.
It is a controversy a bit like Donald Trump. A large part of Trump’s popularity is his anti-establishment perception. Yet somehow the point is missed by those shouting loudly “lots of important people don’t like Trump!”
So I am intrigued by anything the establishment is wailing against. Does this court decision have any real, honest, change potential packed into its 90 pages? Yeah, a little.
The discussion on teacher’s compensation is pretty good, though the judge sounds as if he wants to establish a functional free market for teachers, which would of course require the government to not be involved with education, which of course the rest of the judge’s decision directly contradicts.
The discussion on special education spending also comes across as eminently reasonable. There is no reasonable way to justify spending $200,000 a year on a profoundly disabled student when it means a 1000 other kids will have a more limited educational experience.
It is noteworthy that the words “family” or “families” do not appear once in 90 pages. When dealing with a case centered around poor urban school districts and their dismal performance, it is telling that the root of the problem, not enough families that prioritize education, is entirely avoided. Understandable though, the judge seemed to be in an honest mood when writing this decision and going down that rabbit hole might have led to the unsettling conclusion: The state plays a large role in weakening families, urban, rural and otherwise.
Unsurprisingly though (never forget who a judge works for), the main thrust of the decision is very clear: The State of CT needs to take a more direct role in education.
This is the part that the Windham voter’s need to let sink in. Some choice quotes:
“The state’s responsibility for education is direct and non-delegable: it must assume unconditional authority to intervene in troubled school districts.”
“As the Pereira Court ruled, whatever local boards of education do, they do “on behalf of the state.””
“The state loudly reminds local governments that they are merely its creatures, and that “the only powers a municipal corporation has are those which are expressly granted to it by the state.””
So Windham voters, I suggested in June after the BOE budget was voted down for a third time, that lack of true local control was one of the main causes of the current dissatisfaction with the BOE. This decision, despite all the controversy it is causing now, is a sign of things to come. The state, can, and will, same as the feds, continue to erode the power of parents and local communities.
Despite all the dire (and false) warnings of hurting children, refusing to go along with the plans of local BOEs, plans which hand over more and more control to distant, unaccountable bureaucrats, is one of the only options we have left.
I suggest we refuse to go along with the plan again on Sept 27th.
Brian Saucier – LocalLiberty.org