View Full Version : Judge finds Texas school finance system unconstitutional


sppunk
09-15-2004, 04:59 PM
This is freaking awesome!

BC-TX—School Finance-Trial, 4th Ld-Writethru,0490
Judge finds Texas school finance system unconstitutional
Eds: SUBS with new grafs 1-4 to provide more elaboration on Dietz’s ruling; Will be led.
AP Photo
sacjmmw
By APRIL CASTRO
Associated Press Writer
AUSTIN (AP) — Texas’ $30 billion system for financing public schools was found unconstitutional Wednesday by a judge who said he would issue an injunction ordering state funds for education to cease within a year if the Legislature does not find an equitable solution.
State District Judge John Dietz ruled moments after closing arguments in the lawsuit brought against the state by more than 300 school districts. The districts contended that the system violated the state Constitution by not providing equal educa-tional opportunities.
Dietz agreed, saying the gap between “the haves and the have nots” was too wide, and Texas faces dire consequences if it doesn’t provide adequate funding to all its students now.
“By 2040, we’ll have a population that’s larger, poorer, less educated and more needy than today,” Dietz said. “Who in Texas would choose this for our future? The answer is no one.”
The decision, which follows nearly six weeks of testimony, is expected to be appealed.
The suing districts, both wealthy and poor, argued that the state depends too heavily on local property taxes and should share more of the financial burden of public education.
Opponents refer to the 10-year-old system as Robin Hood because property tax revenue from wealthy districts is redistrib-uted to poorer districts. Wealthy and poor districts contend that the state should appropriate more money to Texas’ 1,037 school districts.
The system passed the Legislature in 1993 only after the state Supreme Court ordered lawmakers to devise a plan guaran-teeing poor school districts equal access to funds. The system has been criticized for years, and the districts turned to the courts after the Legislature failed to find a new system.
The state argued that the system meets the minimum constitutional requirements for Texas’ 4.3 million students. Changing the system should be the responsibility of the Legislature, not the courts, the state has argued.
Nearly two-thirds of the state’s education budget comes from property taxes. But the districts say a cap on local property taxes limits their ability to raise money.
The Legislature failed to reach a compromise on school finance in a special session this spring. Most lawmakers said they wanted a new, equitable system while providing property tax relief for homeowners.
The Legislature convenes for a regular session in January. Republican House Speaker Tom Craddick has said he believes it is best for the Legislature to wait until after the court rules to tackle school finance.
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On the Web:
Texas Education Agency: http://www.tea.state.tx.us

3Marlon3Brando
09-15-2004, 05:24 PM
Originally posted by sppunk
“By 2040, we’ll have a population that’s larger, poorer, less educated and more needy than today,” Dietz said.

is he talking about mexicans

3Marlon3Brando
09-15-2004, 05:24 PM
i hope not that would be racist

BeautifulLoser
09-15-2004, 05:38 PM
The guy's got a good point... the schools in the richer areas get more money, and that sucks.

But, when you take a look at individual schools, the schools with the better test scores aren't necessarily the ones with more money. They're the ones who have good teachers and make good use of the money they have. Last time I checked, one of the best high schools in Texas is in some little podunk town in the middle of nowhere that barely gets any funding. (Don't remember the name of the place...)

This isn't really on topic, but the government has a habit of throwing money at schools that have low test scores. (This is the case in Mississippi.) If you give more money to schools with low test scores, where's the incentive to do better? And where's the policy that says what that money has to be spent on? A majority of the time, the money is thrown away into something stupid and doesn't help the quality of teachers or the quality of the schools.

It's the same thing as welfare. Throw money at people for not having a job, and they'll abuse the hell out of the system by staying unemployed.

/stupid rant

Nimrod's Son
09-15-2004, 05:42 PM
Originally posted by BeautifulLoser
The guy's got a good point... the schools in the richer areas get more money, and that sucks.
No, since property taxes are higher in those areas, those people pay more taxes to their lo9cal governments and those local governments should keep that money locally.

BeautifulLoser
09-15-2004, 05:49 PM
Originally posted by Nimrod's Son
No, since property taxes are higher in those areas, those people pay more taxes to their lo9cal governments and those local governments should keep that money locally. So what about the poor schools?

(just playing Devil's Advocate here... as I said, I don't think the quality of school has as much to do with money as everyone thinks)

Nimrod's Son
09-15-2004, 06:39 PM
Originally posted by BeautifulLoser
So what about the poor schools?

(just playing Devil's Advocate here... as I said, I don't think the quality of school has as much to do with money as everyone thinks) Ok, I'll give you an example.

My parents bought a house in a town they could just barely afford to live in (very high prop. taxes) because the school system in that town was ranked the #3 public school system in the country. I must admit, I had an excellent public education.

So, what they are telling everyone who did what my parents did is we're now taking your money and giving it elsewhere. That's what <i>state</i> taxes are for, not local taxes. Property tax is mainly a city/county tax.

I think this hurts the middle class more than it helps anyone.

Boner
09-15-2004, 06:49 PM
Three words: State District Judge.

This decision will be overturned quicker than Paris Hilton when the Chicago Bears defense shows up at her mansion.

meow
09-15-2004, 06:52 PM
Originally posted by Nimrod's Son
Ok, I'll give you an example.

My parents bought a house in a town they could just barely afford to live in (very high prop. taxes) because the school system in that town was ranked the #3 public school system in the country. I must admit, I had an excellent public education.

So, what they are telling everyone who did what my parents did is we're now taking your money and giving it elsewhere. That's what <i>state</i> taxes are for, not local taxes. Property tax is mainly a city/county tax.

I think this hurts the middle class more than it helps anyone.


ahhh good point.

sppunk
09-15-2004, 06:59 PM
Originally posted by The Ace of Aces
Three words: State District Judge.
Not so much.

The appeal goes to the Texas supreme court, and its new (liberal) chief justice, William Jefferson. It'll be upheld.

Junebug
09-15-2004, 07:30 PM
About time. It will be interesting to see what they finally come up with as an alternative, though.

murgle
09-15-2004, 09:02 PM
THANK GOD.