For close to half a century, the aim of scores of lawsuits about public schools across the country has been to require states to improve education for students by spending a lot more money. When the case of Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding v. M. Jodi Rell began, in 2005, that was its goal, too. Last week, after sixty days of a bench trial, Judge Thomas G. Moukawsher, of the Connecticut Superior Court, said that the judiciary cannot set the amount of money the state must spend on education. In a smartly written, sometimes sardonic, and unusually pointed ninety-page opinion, he focused instead on how the state is spending the billions of dollars it does on education and concluded that it is failing miserably.

The Connecticut Council for Education Reform, a bipartisan and moderate group of business and civic leaders, has proposed rationalization of schools as a way to deal with declining enrollment in more than three-quarters of the state’s towns.

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