Monday, November 19, 2007

Sheff v. O'Neill CT's Being Sued Again

The NAACP has said that the state of Connecticut has been given nearly a decade to desegregate the Hartford School system, and like schools that are racially imbalanced. The imbalances according to experts are largely due to socioeconomic factors of urbanization, industry investment, real estate policy, pay inequity, and the unspoken policy and practice of race evasion by the private sector.

There is no doubt that the NAACP case has merit and Connecticut has been slow to respond. They have been so slow that as of November a sleuth of subpoenas landed our states top brass back in court.

One person in particular questioned by Ralph Urban Esq. the NAACP attorney is Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management Robert Genuario. Genuario is an attorney and state senator from Norwalk CT who was appointed to his post by Gov. Rell. Mr. Genuario was being questioned regarding the progress made by the state of CT in its construction and implementation of 7 magnet schools in the Hartford area.

Secretary Genuario indicated that he participated in meetings to address the legal mandates regarding Sheff v. O'Neill he indicated that the state legislature did not approve as much funding as he hoped but did succeed in getting almost one half of the total requirements put through. He also cited collusion of power between the competing branches of government that made the implementation of the court order an arduous task.

The secretary feels that the main problem with full compliance with the Federal Court Order is the overall cost of implementing it. School construction is very expensive and over half of our state bonding debt, now 14.5 Billion, is tied up in school construction projects. This debt is the equivalent of $15,000.00 for every man, woman, and child in CT and consumes 11 Cents of every tax dollar in interest.

His message to the NAACP is that CT, now having the third highest bonding debt in America, simply cannot afford to rapidly build the schools demanded by the court order. Under the current pressures they are doing the best they can without incurring any additional bonding debt. To do so is to potentially destroy the states credit rating making an already bad financial situation even worse.

This case is still ongoing in Hartford superior court, and as a matter of opinion I can certainly agree that education is a desperate situation not only in CT but everywhere. I spent some time reading up on this issue of race inequity and segregation and have come to the conclusion that this issue is enormous and will require the resources of every school in the state if it is to be fixed.

My personal opinion has always been that the best way to desegregate our schools, and to improve education is to get the support of our major colleges and universities. To cut the cost of education to our state, and improve the resources available to low income inner city students, state, local, and private universities should be encouraged to open their doors to state funding to build and expand their campuses to encourage magnet school integration and resource sharing.

The very merger of High School and college in poor inner cities can potentially present envious opportunities for children who are not currently being properly educated. It will also put experienced educators and business managers in charge of education funding and tax dollar allocation.

The state already spends hundreds of millions doing a job that it has yet to be successful at. My personal belief is, that an inner city high school, for example, located on the campus of Yale University would be praised and supported by the highest and brightest levels of government at all levels, including some of the brightest students in the world at the disposal of teachers. This is just one of my "out of the box" innovative thoughts. While I must admit I am no expert on this issue, it certainly is a worthy proposal and possible solution to a decade old problem.

The question remains however, do the universities want to go into the business of educating younger students with state and local tax dollars. I personally feel that this should be explored.

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