Christine Stuart photo
Judge Simon Bernstein (Christine Stuart photo )

The Connecticut Supreme Court will be asked Tuesday to determine if Connecticut schoolchildren have a right to an adequate education.

Yale Law students filed the case against the state more than two years ago on behalf of 15 students and their families that feel the quality of education is falling far short of its intended goal. The Attorney General’s office is expected to argue on behalf of the state.

“By recognizing that each child in this State has the right to an adequate education, the Supreme Court can empower the Legislature to provide our children with the kind of education they deserve,” David Noah, one of the law students who will make the oral arguments to the court, said in a press release.

At the press conference Monday, East Hartford Mayor Melody Currey said the fact that the state could argue there is no right to an adequate “education under the Connecticut constitution strikes me as preposterous.”

“Surely out beloved Attorney General has gotten the State’s position all wrong!” she added.

Nekita Carroll-Hall, one of the plaintiff’s in the case, said “I have seen how grossly underfunded the Bridgeport schools truly are.” She said the class sizes are too large and books, computers, and instructional staff are too limited.

Judge Simon Bernstein, who authored the part of the state constitution addressing education in 1965 as a delegate to the constitutional convention, said Monday that when he offered the resolution “all I talked about was good education.” There was “no need to spell out what those words meant,” he said.

John Yrchik, executive director of the Connecticut Education Association, said the legislative process has not produced the level of resources required to provide an adequate education by “ensuring all children regardless of the town they live in have access to quality pre-kindergarten, quality teachers, smaller classrooms, early reading programs…” He said the judicial branch has an opportunity in this case to define what an adequate education is and require the legislature to devise a system to support it.

Ronald Newman, one of the 14 Yale Law students working on the case, said supporting adequate education doesn’t always mean more funding or resources. He said it can mean more accountability. “Whatever it takes,” to provide an adequate education, is what we’re asking for, he said.

Once the Supreme Court makes a decision the case will go back to the trial court for discovery. For more about the lawsuit visit the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding at www.ccjef.org.