Connecticut and Regionalization

A lot of Connecticut’s problems are due to a prejudice against regionalization. This is made crystal-clear in an op-ed in today’s Hartford Courant by the executive director of the Capitol Region Education Council, a former superintendent of Cheshire schools, Greg J. Florio.

The topic of the op-ed is desegregating Hartford’s schools according to the Sheff v. O’Neill decision. He writes that “Connecticut communities value the concept of local control, especially of their schools. This will never change.” This love of local control is especially powerful because CT is one of the only two states in the U.S. that has no counties. Nothing but the state can stand up to Connecticut’s cities and towns.

However, Florio says that he sees “a willingness to come together to address these concerns of providing quality integrated education to all students with a regional approach: not regionalization, but regional thought and regional solutions.”

If he’s right, it doesn’t matter what it’s called. But there can be no fairness in education (and much else) in our state without the support of the suburbs surrounding our cities.

Too much activism in our state is also focused on the cities. They are where the problems are most acute and where it is easiest to organize. But the best solutions will come only with the support of those who live in and manage the suburbs. They have the money and the power in Connecticut. Not only are they thrifty, but they don’t like to spend any money that will go outside their towns (they still haven’t swallowed state income tax, which is only 25 years old).

It’s going to take a lot of work to bring the suburbs on board. This is something that progressive seniors, with a history in their towns and time on their hands, will be best at. It’s something worth including in strategic planning discussions.

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