Monday, October 10, 2011

Lawsuits Loom in State Education Finance

According to this item at the Austin American-Statesman, there are three separate theories being argued in three separate lawsuits challenging the 81st Legislature’s cutting of $4 billion for public education from the current budget – resulting in the layoffs of tens of thousands of public school teachers. That’s nothing. In 2012 it will be a $13 billion cut.

These theories are as follows:

1. The Texas State Constitution, since 1876 requires the Legislature to provide an "efficient system of public free schools." The argument goes that the system is anything but efficient because funding levels are arbitrary, irrational and inequitable.

2. In another lawsuit, ISDs maintain that the Legislature has once again levied a statewide property tax, which is constitutionally prohibited.

3. The third tack holds that funding is inadequate to prepare students to meet the state's standards, “which have been ratcheted up in recent years.”


Now here’s the thing. All of this won’t play out until 2013. That is the projected trial schedule. In other words, in 2013 the damage will have been done. More teachers will be chased out of the profession, belts will tighten and it will be all that much more difficult to teach. With NCLB still in force, more and more campuses will not meet their AYP.

Forcing public schools to the private sector, which is exactly the goal of Republicans.

Privatization of public education.

State Rep. Jim Keffer has famously defended his party’s assault on public education in this quote, found at the Austin American-Statesman:

“But that's usually how legislatures work. We do our best when our back is against the wall and the gun is cocked against our head.”

Except that didn’t exactly happen, did it? Or maybe he is referring to the fact that 3 lawsuits are the cocked gun. That works for me.

Only it’s going to be too late, and there is no guarantee the legislature will fix this inequitable system that fails to educate Texas’ schoolchildren.

And that, I think, was also planned.

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