By Corrie MacLaggan
AUSTIN, Texas Feb 4 The Texas school finance
system violates the state constitution because it is inequitable
and is not adequately funded, a state district judge ruled on
District Court Judge John Dietz also declared that the
system prevents school districts from exercising meaningful
discretion in setting tax rates as required by the constitution.
Lawyers for hundreds of Texas school districts besieged by
rapid population growth and deep budget cuts argued in a massive
school finance trial that the state has not adequately funded
public education or resolved inequities among districts.
The legal action was brought on behalf of about 650 of the
state's 1,000-plus school districts, accounting for some 3.7
million of Texas's 5 million school children.
Similar battles are playing out across the country. Active
school finance lawsuits are pending in 16 states, including
Texas, according to the National Education Access Network, which
tracks such court action across the country.
In Kansas, a three-judge panel ruled in January that the
state was unconstitutionally short-changing its students by
underfunding education needs and must increase spending by about