The Texas Supreme Court ruled the State of Texas the winner in the most recent K-12 public school finance lawsuit (May 13, 2016) at the disappointment of the plaintiffs – over half of the state’s 1,000 plus school districts.
The Court declared the state’s school finance system constitutional yet imperfect, declaring it “a recondite scheme of which the word ‘Byzantine’ seems generous.”
Justice Willett delivered the unanimous opinion of the Court and reasoned “Judicial review … does not license second-guessing the political branches’ policy choices, or substituting the wisdom of nine judges for that of 181 lawmakers.”
Justice Boyd stated in a concurring opinion:
Over the past twenty-seven years, this Court has repeatedly and extensively addressed, construed, and applied these [words]. The arguments the parties raised in these cases required the Court to focus particularly on the phrases ‘general diffusion of knowledge,’ ‘suitable provision,’ and ‘efficient system.’ But in doing so, the Court has repeatedly highlighted one phrase that others seem to overlook:
“… it shall be the duty of the Legislature …”
The Court made known that it is the Legislature’s responsibility to set the policies that guide and establish the funds that support Texas K-12 public education.
Although the Court ruled the state’s finance system constitutional, it also noted, “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. They deserve a revamped, nonsclerotic system fit for the 21st century.”
It is clear: It is the Texas Legislature’s legal authority and moral responsibility to fix its K-12 public school finance system.
Unfortunately, it cannot.
The second blog on this subject explains why.