Texas Supreme Court rules against challenges to school finance system
The way Texas funds its public schools is far from perfect, but it’s good enough, theTexas Supreme Court ruled Friday, dealing an abrupt end to a years-long fight to increase state funding for public education.This is a good decision that places the question where it belongs in the legislature and not with trial lawyers and judges. If the citizens of Texas want to spend more on public schools they can elect legislatures to share that objective. My own opinion is that schools are more than adequately financed, and the money being spent by some districts on sports stadiums by local officials calls into question their judgment on what is appropriate spending.
The unanimous ruling said the court’s job “is not to second-guess or micromanage Texas education policy or to issue edicts from on high increasing financial inputs in hopes of increasing educational outputs.”
“Our role is much more limited, as is our holding: Despite the imperfections of the current school funding regime, it meets minimum constitutional requirements,” said the long-awaited opinion by Justice Don Willett.
The ruling was an unqualified victory for state officials and Republican leaders who argued that education problems could not be fixed simply by directing more money to schools.
The ruling also is likely to place limits on future lawsuits by emphasizing that the Legislature, not the judiciary, is the proper venue for deciding school-finance policy.
Two-thirds of the state’s school districts filed four separate lawsuits complaining, among other things, that the state is not providing enough money to ensure a proper public school education, particularly for the growing number of low-income and foreign-language students.