The Kansas Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that the state’s low spending on public education violated the state’s constitution. As Mitch Smith and Julie Bosman explain in the New York Times,
In a unanimous ruling, the court said black, Hispanic and poor students were especially harmed by the lack of funding, pointing to lagging test scores and graduation rates. The justices set a June 30 deadline for lawmakers to pass a new constitutional funding formula, sending them scrambling to find more money to pay for a solution.
This is the second time in about a year that Kansas’ highest court has ruled against the state’s approach to paying for schools.
Eric Hanushek wrote about the details of this lawsuit in 2014.
Kansas is not the only state dealing with a school finance lawsuit; similar lawsuits have been filed in Connecticut, Texas, and elsewhere.
In an article for Education Next, Charles Ogletree and Kimberley Robinson argue that these school finance cases should not be only a state issue. They believe that U.S. Supreme Court should reconsider its ruling in San Antonio v. Rodriguez that the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee a right to an adequate education.
Although the Rodriguez court trusted states to ensure equal educational opportunity, this trust has proven misplaced. Even when students and their families have been successful in school funding litigation based on state constitutions, many state lawmakers have resisted and evaded court mandates to provide equitable or adequate funding. Until we change this reality, students at all income levels will continue to perform poorly in comparison to their international peers.
In a response, Alfred Lindseth, Lee Peifer, and Rocco Testani contend that the argument for recognizing a federal right to education “rests on shaky legal reasoning and would translate into bad policy.”
The forum featuring these two articles, “Reconsidering the Supreme Court’s Rodriguez Decision,” appears in the Spring 2017 issue of Education Next.
– Education Next