Texas’ Supreme Court unanimously ruled Friday that while the state’s funding formula may not be perfect, it meets minimal state constitutional requirements. In addition, the justices added, it’s not the court’s role to dictate to the legislature and governor how to fund schools.
“Our judicial responsibility is not to second-guess or micromanage Texas education policy or to issue edicts from on high increasing financial inputs in hopes of increasing educational outputs,” said Justice Don Willett in the ruling.
The challenge to the formula was brought by 600 school districts and the state’s charter schools. They argued that the state’s legislature had failed to meet its constitutional obligation to provide an adequate education to Texas’ 5 million students. Lawyers representing the districts during the hearings in September pointed out that just half of the students were college-ready.
“We’ve had this ramping up of standards and we’ve had these growing demographics of students who are more expensive to educate,” said Marisa Bono, an attorney representing Edgewood ISD plaintiffs, according to Houston Public Media .
But the state argued that money is not “pixie dust” that would magically fix schools and that the state outperforms neighboring states. The Texas legislature added $1.5 billion to its education budget over the five years that the case coursed its way through the state’s courts.
In Friday’s ruling, the judges conceded that improvements need to be made to the state’s public school system.
“Imperfection, however, does not mean imperfectible,” Willett said. “Texas’ more than 5 million schoolchildren ... deserve transformational, top-to-bottom reforms that amount to more than Band-Aid on top of Band-Aid.”
A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.