Making Democracy Work

Social Policy Positions

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The League of Women Voters takes action on an issue or advocates for a cause when there is an existing League position that supports the issue or speaks to the cause.

Mental Health

The League of Women Voters of Connecticut supports comprehensive, community-based mental health systems for children and adults. These systems should include early detection and intervention with a range of services to facilitate care, treatment and recovery. The LWVCT supports a public initiative on mental health.

School Finance

SCHOOL FINANCE

[LWVCT Position: Adopted 1990; amended and affirmed 2000]

The League of Women Voters of Connecticut believes that fairness or equity in education means more than the spending of equal dollars or the provision of identical programs for the education of each public school child in our state. The League therefore supports a system of public elementary and secondary education in Connecticut which will provide a suitable program of educational experiences for each child and which will make available to each community sufficient financial resources to support that level of educational services.

The League believes that the state has the responsibility to define broad goals for an educational program and to establish minimum required levels of student achievement. There should be significant local participation. School districts should be encouraged to exceed the standards where possible.
1. The state should assure through state grants to communities that sufficient resources are available for the education of every child, regardless of where that child lives. The state should fund 50% of the statewide cost of K-12 public education. Every school district should receive a minimum per-pupil state aid.
2. Because of the wide differences in local wealth, greater equality of educational opportunity will require a greater average state share of local school costs. This means a considerably higher state percentage of school costs in poorer communities and a lower percentage in wealthier ones. State aid to any city or town should be free to rise each year by as much as the Educational Cost Share (ECS) formula requires.
3. In measuring the relative ability of different communities to finance schools from local resources and therefore the relative need of each for state financial assistance, the state should consider: a. the community's property wealth as defined by its Grand List per Pupil or preferably per capita, compared to that in other communities in the state; b. the income level of that community compared to that of other towns in the state; and c. other demands on local tax revenues, such as police, fire and social services.
4. The state should recognize that spending equal dollars per child in the school assistance programs does not mean equal educational opportunity. Since certain children are more difficult to educate, it is more costly to educate them to a minimum achievement level. In determining the total amount of state assistance to a community, many factors should be considered. Among them: a. the number of poorer families, possibly those on Aid to Dependent Children (in view of welfare reform legislation, a more accurate measure of children in poverty, such as eligibility for free or reduced cost school lunch should be substituted for Temporary Family Assistance); b. the number of those failing state Mastery tests; c. the graduation rates or drop-out rates; d. the number of students not proficient in English; and e. the Excess Cost Grant, which reimburses the district for the cost of the most expensive special education students, should be set lower than five times the local per-pupil costs.
5. In order to assure that increased state assistance for schools achieves an improvement in education, especially in poorer communities, the state should require a certain minimum expenditure per pupil for a community to be eligible for any state assistance for its schools. The state should also require that any increase in the school assistance be used for an equivalent rise in local school expenditures over that of previous years. The Minimum Expenditure Requirement (MER), the amount that a district is required to spend on education, should be equal to the Foundation times the number of Needs Students, as defined in the ECS formula.
6. Local communities should retain control of instructional programs and spending allocations and there should be no cap on spending per pupil.
7. If a substantial number of students in a district are failing to attain state-set achievement levels, the state should step in and work with the district to analyze the problem and to seek an improvement.
8. The acute problem, particularly in cities, created by the concentration of children who for various reasons are more costly to educate, requires that the state adopt extraordinary measures directed at raising the levels of achievement in these communities.
9. The programs and monies should, as much as possible, provide incentives for cities and towns to emphasize and execute effective educational programs.
10. The cap on the ECS grant should be removed within two years as specified in the 1999 ECS legislation.

The Foundation, the basic element of the ECS formula, should be set in the state's biennial budget.

School Quality

QUALITY EDUCATION

[LWVCT Position: Adopted 1991; affirmed 2001; updated 2012]

The League of Women Voters of Connecticut believes that promoting racial/ethnic and economic diversity and avoiding racial isolation in public schools is essential to provide substantially equal educational opportunity for Connecticut children, as required by state law. Offering students diverse, inclusive educational opportunities from an early age is crucial to achieving national educational and civic goal and the state's educational, civic and economic goals to prepare students for higher education or productive employment, to give them the opportunity to be responsible citizens able to participate in our democracy, and to contribute to the state's economy. A working partnership between state and local authorities must exist to guarantee success. The LWVCT supports the concept of collective responsibility among individual school districts and the state of CT to take proactive steps toward achieving diversity and avoiding racial isolation in the student population. Such approaches could include but not be limited to the following:

  • Magnet schools or programs with other specialized academic themes
  • Schools with before-and after-school day care
  • Schools with preschool programs
  • Expanded vocational/technical school programs
  • School pairings
  • Collaborative inter-district school construction
  • Redrawing of school boundaries or Inter-district student transfers
  • Recruitment of minority teachers

Within the traditional educational structure, students are assigned to schools based on the students' places of residence. We believe that alternative means of school assignment can provide flexibility in achieving the goal of substantially equal educational opportunity.

School Vouchers

SCHOOL VOUCHERS

[LWVCT Position: Adopted 1996; affirmed in 2007]

The League of Women Voters of Connecticut believes that the system of elementary and secondary education must be fiscally and educationally accountable to Connecticut citizens. Therefore, public funds should not be used through vouchers, tax credits or any other incentives or payments, direct or indirect, to provide tuition support for students attending non-public schools.

Teen Pregnancy

TEEN PREGNANCY

[LWVCT Position: Adopted 1989; affirmed 1999; amended and affirmed 2009]

1. The League of Women Voters of Connecticut believes that the problems caused by adolescent pregnancy threaten not only our youth but also the future well-being of the State of Connecticut and therefore must be addressed aggressively on the state level.
2. Therefore, we believe the state of Connecticut must take the following steps: a. Ensure that all school-aged children K-12 have access to comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education that provides them with the necessary skills to make safe and responsible choices in regard to their sexual health. Teacher-training programs should be provided to ensure that such programs are well taught. b. Support school-based health clinics to give adolescents access to a broad range of health care services, including reproductive health. c. Support programs and services that provide information and access to affordable birth control in order to help adolescents delay parenthood and avoid unintended pregnancies. d. Support appropriate services and programs designed to encourage and enable adolescent parents to finish high school and become economically self-sufficient.
3. Specific programs should be developed with the help of broad-based community advisory groups to ensure that there is local support and understanding of these programs.
4. The League of Women Voters of Connecticut opposes placing restrictions on an adolescent's right to obtain a full range of reproductive health services.