Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said he has lost faith in Connecticut’s nationally touted school-desegregation efforts and argued that Hartford students would be better served if the landmark Sheff v. O’Neill case returned to court for a fresh round of judicial review.
Although Malloy commended integration as a “laudable goal” and an “OK aspiration,” he said that the state’s negotiations with the Sheff plaintiffs have dragged to an impasse, and that in the meantime too many Hartford children have been left behind in sub-par neighborhood schools — including some black and Latino students excluded from high-performing magnet programs in the quest to meet racial integration quotas.
Those state-sponsored policies, revealed in a Courant special report this month, include tilting the odds in the regional school choice lottery to favor white suburban students who apply to magnet schools. And in a practice that the governor said was discriminatory and likely unconstitutional, some Hartford magnets leave seats empty rather than accept minority children off the waitlist — denying them admission in an effort to achieve an integrated student body.
“It’s as if we’re going out of our way to deprive kids from Hartford of a good education,” Malloy said in an interview with The Courant this week. “I’m going to assume that this goes back to court because this solution is no longer working for the Hartford kids who it’s supposed to benefit, and is hurting them more severely.”
Representatives for the Sheff plaintiffs, who have long been frustrated with the pace of school integration, shot back at the governor, saying any shortcomings in fully implementing the Connecticut Supreme Court’s 1996 desegregation order is the result of inaction and inadequate funding by the state, which is solely responsible for meeting the court’s demands. They pointed, in part, to the state’s limit on the number of magnet school seats it will pay for — caps that…