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September 2, 2014

On August 28, 2014, a state court ruled that Texas' inequitable school finance system is in violation of the state constitution. The court ordered that the state correct its flawed system of distributing inadequate resources to low-income school districts by July 1, 2015.

The case, Texas Taxpayer & Student Fairness Coalition (TTSFC) v. State, was filed by more than 600 Texas school districts in 2011 in response to a $5.4 billion cut in K-12 education funding by the state government. The plaintiff school districts in TTSFC educate 75 percent of the state's five million public school students. The school districts were represented by the Equity Center, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), and others.

The ruling provides a remedy to what has become a troubling pattern of denying adequate funding to low-income and minority students in states across the country. It comes on the heels of similar school funding cases in Kansas (Gannon v. the State of Kansas) and Washington (McCleary v. State of Washington) and pending cases in New York, Connecticut, and Colorado. The TTSFC ruling is especially significant because 10 percent of all public school students in the nation are enrolled in a Texas school.

Setting a July 2015 deadline for the state to more equitably distribute resources, Judge John Dietz declared that the school finance system fails to provide school districts with the resources needed to provide students an adequate education, especially English language learners and low-income students.

The court also criticized the elected branches of state government: "Rather than attempt to solve the problem, the State has buried its head in the sand, making no effort to determine the cost of providing all students with a meaningful opportunity to acquire the essential knowledge and skills reflected in the state curriculum and to graduate at a college- and career-ready level."

David Sciarra, executive director of the Education Law Center (ELC):

"This decision sends a powerful message to lawmakers in Texas and across the nation that they must ensure all children the resources necessary to achieve --- especially at-risk students, English language learners and students with special needs."

Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights:

"Texas is not alone in denying equal or adequate funding for its students -- but as this case shows -- it is one of the worst offenders in the nation. Texas' size and legacy as the home to San Antonio v. Rodriguez -- which denied the federal right to a quality education --- puts it in a class of its own for its commitment to perpetuating an educational caste system in America. "

Related Story:
Texas: Another State Failing to Provide Fair School Funding
Education Justice Press Contact:
Molly A. Hunter, Esq.
Director, Education Justice
email: mhunter@edlawcenter.org
voice: 973 624-1815 x19

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