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Local Representatives Speak Out on Texas Supreme Court’s School Funding Decision

After this morning’s ruling by the Texas State Supreme Court that the current school funding mechanism is constitutional, El Paso-area representatives  and districts were quick to respond.

“Our Byzantine school funding ‘system’ is undeniably imperfect, with immense room for improvement. But it satisfies minimum constitutional requirements,” Justice Don Willett wrote in the court’s 100-page opinion, which asserted that the court’s “lenient standard of review in this policy-laden area counsels modesty.”

Below are responses, in their entirety:

Texas State Rep Joe Moody:

Austin–Earlier today, the Texas Supreme Court overturned a previous decision and held that our public schools “meet minimum constitutional requirements” for funding. However, it also admitted that our five million Texas school children “deserve transformational, top-to-bottom reforms [and] a revamped, nonsclerotic system fit for the 21st century.”
“I can’t say I agree with the court’s decision. Our current funding system isn’t just unfair–it’s based on figures from the 1980’s and 1990’s that fall far short of our children’s real world needs today,” Representative Moody remarked in response to the ruling. “Texas school children deserve a system that fully funds their education instead of putting principals in the predicament of making cut after cut until there’s almost nothing left. Every child deserves a well-rounded, complete education backed by enough resources to help them live up to their full potential.”
For now, the burden falls to the 2017 legislature to begin the arduous work of remodeling school finance laws. Representative Moody says he’s ready for that challenge. “This is a fight I’ve been involved in for years, and no one understands it like the parents and teachers of District 78. With a mix of urban and rural schools across multiple districts, we’ve seen firsthand what happens when education budgets are slashed. School administrators are doing their best with what little they have, but they shouldn’t be underfunded in the first place. It’s disgraceful to hear pundits declaring victory because our schools ‘meet minimum . . . requirements’; even if they do, we can’t expect A+ students ready for tomorrow‘s marketplace of jobs and ideas when we give them schools funded at a D- level. That’s why I’ll continue to fight for greater investment in our state’s most precious resource: our childrens’ education.”
Socorro ISD

It is unfortunate that the Supreme Court believes that the current inequities that exist within the school finance system are constitutional.  We hope that the Court’s advice to the Legislature to revamp the funding system is heeded with equity and adequacy in mind.  The Socorro Independent School District, while disappointed, will move forward and continue to provide a world-class education to all students and ensure they are prepared to have a successful future in college, careers and life.

State Senator Joe Rodriguez

At a time when some school districts can pour tens of millions of dollars into football stadiums when other districts struggle to provide basic instructional materials, it’s clear the school finance system does not provide for equitable and efficient distribution of knowledge. The court has abdicated its role in school finance litigation, reversing decades of precedent to defer to the Legislature despite overwhelming evidence of poor achievement including test scores, dropout rates, and graduation rates, especially as it relates to English Language and Economically Disadvantaged students.

Now that the issue is back to the Legislature, it’s incumbent on the people of Texas to join the fight for their future, which depends on how well we prepare the next generation. Public schools have been a hallmark of American greatness for a century, and they will be the source of our future success or failure.

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