Frando Webb

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frando webb

The two Connecticut school districts sit side by side along Long Island Sound. Both spend more than the national average on their students. They prepare their pupils for the same statewide tests. Their teachers, like virtually all the teachers in the state, earn the same high marks on evaluations.

That is where the similarities end: In Fairfield, a moBut more than anything, Judge Moukawsher seemed offended by the irrationality of the state’s education system: He said its funding of new school buildings was driven not by need, but rather by how much clout individual legislators might have; he criticized the teacher evaluation system and said the high school graduation standards were all but meaningless. He told the General Assembly it first had to determine how much money schools actually need to educate children and then must allocate the funds in a way that met that goal.

Philip Dwyer, the chairman of Fairfield’s Board of Education, said on Friday he felt the judge’s view of Connecticut’s system lacked nuance.

“The problem I have is his writing almost encourages the legislature to boil this down to an urban versus suburban question,” Mr. Dwyer said. “That would avoid the fundamental question of what is a more creative way to fund our constitutional obligation that every child deserves a free and appropriate education. This ‘we’ versus ‘they’ approach his decision sets us on is a path I think is a mistake.”

But Bridgeport’s interim superintendent of schools, Frances Rabinowitz, said much of the ruling sounded right. Ms. Rabinowitz started in Bridgeport as a teacher, then left the city 14 years ago for positions elsewhere, including a job as an associate commissioner for education for the state. When she returned to the district in 2014, she said, it was in even worse shape than when she left.stly white suburb where the median income is $120,000, 94 percent of students graduate from high school on time. In Bridgeport, the state’s most populous and one of its poorest cities, the graduation rate is 63 percent. Fifth graders in Bridgeport, where most people are black or Hispanic, often read at kindergarten level, one of their teachers recently testified during a trial over school funding inequities.

Seemingly intractable contrasts like those last week led Judge Thomas G. Moukawsher to tell the state that it had 180 days in which to rethink almost its entire system of education. Ruling in a case known as Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding v. Rell, Judge Moukawsher of State Superior Court in Hartford said the state was allowing children in poor districts to languish, while their wealthier neighbors soared.

Across the country, school funding cases have often resulted in more money being funneled into poorer districts to help offset the effects of poverty on their students. That may well be the end result in Connecticut.
In Memory

The tenth anniversary of the passing of Gerald Boyd, former manager editor of the New York Timesstirred deep and abiding memories of days.

His passion for the profession and relentless commitment to excellence will long serve as guideposts for aspiring and seasoned journalists alike---Frando Webb

Gerald M. Boyd

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