School Funding Lawsuit Back in Court

A lawsuit seeking to raise school funding levels was back in court yesterday.

From the Register Guard:

A legal battle over school funding resumed Thursday in the Oregon Court of Appeals, as education advocates tried to persuade a three-judge panel that the Oregon Constitution requires the legislature to give billions more to public schools.

A Multnomah County judge previously sided with attorneys for the state, who say the constitution makes no guarantees on school funding.

Eighteen school districts and four families filed the lawsuit in 2006, accusing legislative leaders of chronically underfunding schools.

Similar lawsuits have been filed in 45 states. Twenty-eight of those have resulted in courts ordering lawmakers to restructure school funding, according to the National Access Network, a Columbia University-based group tracking the cases.

The lawsuit, filed by the Oregon School Funding Defense Coalition, argues that the constitution mandates higher education funding levels:

The Oregon case hinges on two points. The first is a clause in the constitution that charges the state with providing a "uniform and general system of common schools."

Lawyers for the school districts have argued that implicit in that clause is a requirement to fund schools at what they call an "adequate" level, an argument the state's lawyers have rejected.

The second point is a constitutional amendment from 2000 that requires legislators to give public schools the money recommended by an ambitious blueprint known as the "Quality Educational Model," which maps out a plan to bring nearly all Oregon students up to grade level in core subjects like English and math, via methods like smaller class sizes and extra help for struggling students.

Under the 2000 amendment, if legislators don't set aside enough money to meet the model's goals, they are required to explain why they didn't do so in a public report.

Oregon's school funding issues drew national attention in 2003, when schools across the state shut down early because of a lack of money. But the state's economy has since rebounded and the 2007 legislative session was generally hailed as a victory for public schools, which saw their budget boosted 18 percent.

Read the rest. Discuss.

  • Confused (unverified)

    So after years of saying Republicans under fund K-12, the Dems take control of the Legislature and the Governor's Office (an office which the R's didn't have when they had the Legislature) and what to they do? They under fund education.

    <h2>I think I have a mailer around here from my Democratic Rep promising me he would fully fund our schools. I am going to have to dig that out...</h2>
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