Courts are becoming the mechanism to force states to fund education

29 Jan

Moi wrote about education funding in Education funding lawsuits against states on the rise:

Moi has often said in posts at the blog that the next great civil rights struggle will involve access for ALL children to a good basic education. Sabra Bireda has written a report from the Center for American Progress, Funding Education Equitably https://drwilda.com/2012/01/25/education-funding-lawsuits-against-states-on-the-rise/

Andrew Usifusa writes in the Education Week article, State Finance Lawsuits Roil K-12 Funding Landscape about several lawsuits:

As state budgets slowly recover from several years of economic contraction and stagnation, significant court battles continue to play a related yet distinct role in K-12 policy, even in states where the highest courts have already delivered rulings on the subject.

This year, meanwhile, marks the 40th anniversary of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that was a turning point for the role of property taxes in financing school districts and that continues to complicate fiscal decisions for state policymakers. The 5-4 ruling, in San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez, held that the state did not have to justify the higher quality of education for wealthier districts that might result from their local property taxes.

In a 2008 article for the Virginia Law ReviewRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader, Judge Jeffrey Sutton of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, based in Cincinnati, wrote: “For better, for worse, or for more of the same, the majority in Rodriguez tolerated the continuation of a funding system that allowed serious disparities in the quality of the education a child received based solely on the wealth of the community in which his parents happened to live or could afford to live….”

Since the 1970s, lawsuits filed in 45 states have challenged the constitutionality of school finance systems, according to the National Education Access Network, a research group that tracks lawsuits related to education finance and equity based at Teachers College, Columbia University.

DOCKET UPDATE

School funding lawsuits continue to bedevil several states still recovering from the economic downturn that began in 2007. The suits are at various stages, and concerns about the courts’ role in education finance have emerged.

Arizona
On Jan. 15, the Arizona Court of Appeals said that lawmakers were wrong to deny school funding increases to account for inflation. The court ruled that legislators did not follow a ballot measure approved by voters in 2000 that mandated K-12 funding increases for inflation.

Texas
A District Court judge is presiding over what began as four separate cases brought by hundreds of districts against the state after the legislature cut $5.4 billion from K-12 aid during its 2011 session. Districts allege that the structure of the current system creates inequalities between school systems based on wealth, and that the state has not provided the “efficient system” of public education as mandated by the state constitution.

Kansas
State Republican lawmakers indicated that they are considering changes to the state’s constitution in order to strengthen the state legislature’s power over K-12 finance and limit the state supreme court’s oversight. The move could be a significant counterpoint to a U.S. District Court ruling Jan. 11 that the state’s funding system is unconstitutional.

Colorado
Lawmakers and others are waiting for the state supreme court to rule in the Lobato v. State of Colorado case that could mandate an increase in K-12 spending by the state by anywhere between $2 billion to $4 billion annually.

Washington
Less than a year after the state supreme court ruled in McCleary v. State of Washington that the state’s K-12 funding system was constitutionally inadequate and needed to be fixed, the state’s chief justice claimed lawmakers had not done nearly enough to remedy the problem. The impact of satisfying McCleary on the court’s terms could cost the state an additional $1.4 billion in the 2013-15 budget cycle.

SOURCE: Education Week http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/01/23/18finance.h32.html?tkn=LWRFqQKKDXpkxTdC%2F7veHMLh%2BNzLreVfu2%2F5&cmp=clp-edweek&intc=es

 

Moi wrote in  The next great civil rights struggle: Disparity in education funding: Plessy v. Ferguson established the principle of “separate but equal” in race issues. Brown v.Board of Education which overturned the principle of “separate but equal.” would not have been necessary, but for Plessy.See also, the history of Brown v. Board of Education

If one believes that all children, regardless of that child’s status have a right to a good basic education and that society must fund and implement policies, which support this principle. Then, one must discuss the issue of equity in education. Because of the segregation, which resulted after Plessy, most folks focus their analysis of Brown almost solely on race. The issue of equity was just as important. The equity issue was explained in terms of unequal resources and unequal access to education.

People tend to cluster in neighborhoods based upon class as much as race. Good teachers tend to gravitate toward neighborhoods where they are paid well and students come from families who mirror their personal backgrounds and values. Good teachers make a difference in a child’s life. One of the difficulties in busing to achieve equity in education is that neighborhoods tend to be segregated by class as well as race. People often make sacrifices to move into neighborhoods they perceive mirror their values. That is why there must be good schools in all segments of the city and there must be good schools in all parts of this state. A good education should not depend upon one’s class or status.

I know that the lawyers in Brown were told that lawsuits were futile and that the legislatures would address the issue of segregation eventually when the public was ready. Meanwhile, several generations of African Americans waited for people to come around and say the Constitution applied to us as well. Generations of African Americans suffered in inferior schools. This state cannot sacrifice the lives of children by not addressing the issue of equity in school funding in a timely manner.

The next huge case, like Brown, will be about equity in education funding. It may not come this year or the next year. It, like Brown, may come several years after a Plessy. It will come. Equity in education funding is the civil rights issue of this century. https://drwilda.com/2011/12/02/the-next-great-civil-rights-struggle-disparity-in-education-funding/

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One Response to “Courts are becoming the mechanism to force states to fund education”

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  1. California addresses school funding inequity | drwilda - August 22, 2013

    […] Courts are becoming the mechanism to force states to fund education https://drwilda.com/2013/01/29/courts-are-becoming-the-mechanism-to-force-states-to-fund-education/ […]

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