Our “fair share” of ECS funds

In one of the comments to another post, Joe Visconti echoes a claim that’s made by nearly every politician in town: that West Hartford deserves more state education aid.

Much as it hurts my own wallet, I disagree.

If the state has the money to pump more aid to schools, West Hartford should probably get some of it. But, really, the places that need help are not West Hartford and other rich suburban towns.

The schools that truly need more cash are in Hartford, Bridgeport, New Haven, Waterbury, New Britain and a couple of dozen other struggling communities where students live in impoverished conditions and have a hard time learning, for lots of reasons.

The future of our state — and our country — doesn’t rest on whether West Hartford can buy some more Smartboards. What really matters is that we find a way to educate students who face much bigger problems than the vast majority of kids here can even imagine. That takes expertise and money.

We all know that, however much we gripe about the waste so intrinsic to larger, more crooked communities.

I’d love to see my taxes go down because ECS aid rises. But what I’d love to see even more than that is a generation of kids in our troubled cities graduating with something close to the skills that West Hartford’s students possess. That’s how we’ll bequeath a better world to our children.

The General Assembly and the governor need to keep their focus on improving the worst schools, not fussing about how to give a little more to the state’s best schools.

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4 Comments

Filed under budget, ECS, education, General Assembly, Politics, Schools

4 responses to “Our “fair share” of ECS funds

  1. whdad, there are students who live in impoverished conditions and have a hard time learning right here in West Hartford. Of course, West Hartford’s problems are minor compared to those of Connecticut’s beleaguered cities. On the other hand, as you know, West Hartford has been significantly underfunded by ECS during the past decade, when rising numbers of students and shifting demographics, among other factors, have driven up the cost of education. Now that the Town Council punted to the Board of Ed and we are faced with at least $1.8 million worth of cuts in the education budget, I’ve got to think: we could use the money. We could use the money, in part, to help those kids from low-income families who exist in cultural isolation on the periphery of our own happy, shiny town.

  2. Osemasterofdoom

    WHDad: I completely agree that the cities are in more desperate need of assistance than West Hartford. However, I don’t think any amount of money will solve the root of the problem, namely that schools (especially inner-city ones) are being required not just to educate children, but to parent them as well. How can a school have enough time to teach math and science when many of their students lack basic social and interpersonal skills?

    I’ll probably get flamed on this one, but until we crack that nut, no amount of money will solve the problem.

  3. First off, I agree with turtle that one reason our educational costs are rising is that we have a growing number of low-income students who need more help. We owe it to them to make sure they get whatever they need.
    As for Osemasterofdoom, I sort of agree. It isn’t reasonable to expect schools alone to replace family and social structures that kids need to learn. But having no other choice, we have to try to use schools to do the job. It takes a village to raise a child, as Hillary pointed out, and it doesn’t make things easy when the village is crumbling all around. I favor trying to bolster communities, too, but that’s not school aid. That’s part of a comprehensive approach that government has to take. One of these days, it will.

  4. Rick Liftig

    Yet another reason for the increased costs is the mainstreaming of special ed students and the mandate that the handicapped receive the same education as the non-handicapped. In many cases, a handicapped student needs a full-time paraprofessional to escort them throughout the day. The costs of educating one handicapped student can be upwards of $50,000 a year. (add in the cost of the para, the special transportation, staff time, etc.)

    I am not judging whether this is right or wrong, but it is one of the many mandates that have been passed down from ‘on high’.

    There seems to be a mandate for everything these days and my personal feeling is that we are being legislated to death. Is it any coincidence that the largest employer in the State of Connecticut IS the State of Connecticut?

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