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. "