October 2009
Breaking News: Colorado Court Allows School Funding Case to Proceed

On Monday, October 19th, the Colorado Supreme Court denied the state's motion to dismiss Lobato v. State, in which the plaintiffs' challenge the adequacy of the state's public school funding system. The supreme court concluded that the courts have the responsibility to determine whether the financing system complies with the education clause in the state constitution. This ruling means that the case will proceed to trial. See

In This Issue
Testimony in McCleary v. State of Washington, which is scheduled to conclude this month, October 2009, has revealed glaring resource deficiencies and inequities, resulting in inadequate educational opportunities for Washington students. The state ranks 44th in total expenditures per student, and according to plaintiffs' evidence to the court, the state's failure to adequately fund its schools has had unfortunate consequences. The state has responded that, because Washington's standards are high, students' performance on state tests does not indicate that they are receiving an inadequate education, and that increased money would not improve achievement.
According to comments submitted by a number of organizations, the models of change proposed by the Department of Education for School Improvement Grants are unproven and likely to be counterproductive. Instead, commenters claim, Title I schools need evidence-based, effective interventions tailored to schools' actual needs, and adequate funding for implementation.
Because gross disparities in the allocation of resources and funds for the education of the nation's public school children persist, the time has come for an education amendment to the federal constitution, argues the Southern Education Foundation (SEF) in its recently-released report, “No Time to Lose: Why America Needs an Education Amendment to the US Constitution to Improve Public Education.”
Last month we began a series exploring some of the lessons that can be learned from changes implemented in response to quality education lawsuits. This month we focus on the innovative School Facilities Board created in Arizona to address the constitutional violations found in Roosevelt v. Bishop.
Students in Hawaii will spend 17 fewer days in school this year, while some classrooms in California are crammed with 50 or more students. Although most states have cut education as a last resort, increasing budget deficits are pressuring states to look for more ways to cut spending. Many are reducing funding for education, forcing schools to resort to cost-saving measures that will undoubtedly have a negative impact on student learning.
High Court Decisions Anticipated Plaintiffs still await decisions from state supreme courts in Abbeville County Sch. Dist. v. State of South Carolina and Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding v. Rell, both of which were argued over a year ago.
Mid-October, 2009 Trial is scheduled to conclude in McCleary v. State of Washington. For trial updates, read here.
October 20, 2009 “Education and School Funding Reform in Ohio and Across the Nation,” Coalition of Rural and Appalachian Schools with guest speaker Molly Hunter, Logan, OH.
November 5-7, 2009 “Building a National Movement to Close the Opportunity Gap,” 2nd Annual National Opportunity to Learn Summit, Arlington, VA.
November 6, 2009 Education Law Center to be honored at Hot Schott Awards Gala and Dinner, 2nd Annual National Opportunity to Learn Summit, Arlington, VA.
November 13, 2009 “Reaffirming the Role of School Integration in K-12 Education Policy: A Conversation Among Policymakers, Advocates, and Educators,” Washington, DC.
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State-by-state information on school funding litigation, past and pending, can be found at this web page.

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