The Texas Supreme Court unanimously ruled the state’s K-12 public school finance system constitutional (May 13, 2016).
However, the Court also noted that “Texas’s more than 5 million school children … deserve transformational, top-to-bottom reforms that amount more than Band-Aid on top of Band-Aid.”
Unfortunately, the Texas Legislature is incapable of transforming its system of public school finance.
And it’s not because of a lack of good intentions.
It cannot do the job because it, like all governments, struggles to meet the needs of all individuals, organizations, businesses, or entities that need, want, or are given the taxpayers’s money.
The problem, in part, rests in equal versus equitable treatment.
For example, if the Legislature treated the 1,000 plus Texas school districts equally, inequity would abound. The educational settings and needs of Texas’s school districts vary so much (huge districts v large, medium, and small districts; urban v suburban and rural districts; wealthy districts v poor; and on and on could go the differences) that a one-size-fits-all funding system is doomed from the start.
If equitable treatment is the driving philosophy, then Texans get a financial system – the present system – the Court described as “recondite” (i.e., beyond ordinary understanding or knowledge) and “Byzantine” (i.e., excessively complicated).
A perfect financial system is impossible, and best and good may be elusive, too.
What does the future hold for Texas K-12 public school finance?
A tweaked, recondite, Byzantine system with some, but not enough, additional funding for all, sprinkled with a heavy dose of politics.