Tag Archives: adequacy lawsuit

What is “adequate” education funding?

Yesterday the 1st District Court of Appeals for California heard an appeal on Robles-Wong v. California, a landmark case originally filed by the California School Boards Association in 2010 and then combined with Campaign for Quality Education v. California, another funding adequacy case filed the same year. The judges must rule within the next 90 days whether to overturn an earlier dismissal of the case.

News reports on yesterday’s arguments:

I also highly recommend downloading and reading the California School Boards Association’s recent, very comprehensive report on funding adequacy. It’s packed with facts and figures and makes a strong case that California is still not funding its schools adequately, even with the real and significant increases we’ve seen through the Local Control Funding Formula. The report estimates that the state should add between $22 and $42 billion (with a “b”!) annually to adequately prepare students for college.

Download the full report here (PDF)>

P.S. After I wrote this post, I came across this article from the Atlantic, “How Rich Parents Can Exacerbate School Inequality,” which makes a strong case for adequate funding for ALL schools to lessen the need for parent fundraising. Among the gems:

[Robert] Reich also pointed out that when wealthy people give money to their town foundations, their tax-deductable donations stay in their own communities. The contributions enhance the schools’ success, which in turn increases the donors’ property value. In other words, the rich receive tax credits for giving money to themselves. “All of us are subsidizing the magnification of inequality in public schools,” he told me. It’s preposterous.”

And:

Parental fundraising activities may even detract from local political activity, too, according to Reich. These highly educated, affluent parents, he said, use their finite energy and wallets to do some something that exclusively benefits their children. As a result, the parents may be less likely to advocate for policy changes that would benefits kids in other school districts, taking away some of their “political voice,” Reich theorized. Instead of going to Trenton or Albany to fight for public schools, they are running the town’s science fair.

One more:

Reich contrasted the fundraising efforts across school districts in California. He found that parents in the wealthy suburb of Hillsborough, California, raised about $2,300 per student on top of the district’s standard per-pupil allocation. Through online auctions whose items included a vacation on an island off of Belize in a house with a dedicated butler and a trip to see to the final episode of The Bachelor, they financed class-size reductions, librarians, art, and music teachers, along with smart technology in every classroom. In contrast, a foundation in Oakland raised only $100 per child. And, Reich said, parent foundations are nonexistent in most of the country’s poor cities and rural areas.

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At long last — an adequacy lawsuit against the state

This morning, a historic lawsuit was filed against the state of California, alleging that the current school finance system in the state is unconstituional, and asking that the state be required to establish a system that provides all students with the same opportunity to meet the academic goals set by the state.

The lawsuit, Robles-Wong v. California,  was filed by a broad coalition, including more than 60 individual students and their families, nine school districts from throughout the State (including SFUSD), the California School Boards Association (CSBA), California State PTA, and the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA).

According to the CSBA press release:

California’s broken school finance system has undermined the ability of districts to educate our children by making no connection between what is expected of schools and students and the funding provided in order to meet those expectations.California has set clear requirements for what schools are expected to teach and what students are expected to learn. But the state has failed in its obligation to provide the resources necessary to meet these requirements. The state’s failure to support the required educational program adversely affects all students. Academic achievement results show California’s irrational, unstable and insufficient school finance system denies students the opportunity to become proficient in the State’s academic standards.

It’s very important to note that this district is incurring no legal costs (other than the staff time required on the part of the General Counsel and the Superintendent)  for being a party to the lawsuit. And though this is not a “quick fix” — it could take a long time to wind its way through the courts — it’s at least a ray of hope on the horizon that the courts will finally force the Legislature to do what we’ve been asking them to do for years.

For more information on the lawsuit, go to http://www.fixschoolfinance.org .  For background on adequacy lawsuits, this web site, maintained by Teachers College of Columbia University, is a treasure trove.