Lawyers representing 19 Massachusetts school districts began oral arguments last week before the state’s highest court, contending that the state has failed to give students in poorly financed schools an adequate education, as required by the state constitution.
The lawyers for the Boston-based Council for Fair School Finance essentially asked a seven-judge panel to uphold the recommendations of a superior-court ruling last April, which found that the school aid system has contributed to overcrowded classrooms and an uneven implementation of the state curriculum. (“Mass. School Funding Comes Up Short, Judge Rules,” May 5, 2004.
On the first day of oral arguments, Oct. 4, some judges on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court expressed doubt that simply providing more money would help districts. They cited management issues and a lack of teacher training as contributing to problems. The court is expected to rule early next year.
State Commissioner of Education David P. Driscoll noted in an interview that 80 percent of Massachusetts’ students are passing state accountability exams, and that state sat scores have increased for more than a decade. “Progress is being made,” he said. “We’re getting results.”