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Posted at 1:05 PM ET, 05/20/2010

California sued over education funding crisis

By Valerie Strauss

It has come to this in California: Desperate educators are turning to the courts for some relief from historic budget cuts that are leaving some districts unable to provide all students with an equal opportunity to meet the state’s academic goals.

A broad coalition of organizations and school districts
filed a lawsuit Thursday
in the Superior Court of California in Alameda asking that the state’s education finance system be declared unconstitutional. It also seeks creation of a new process by which schools are equitably funded.

California’s public schools have been battered by budget cuts in recent years. The state Constitution gives education financing a unique priority by requiring that "from all state revenues there shall first be set apart the monies to be applied by the State for support of the public school system.” The lawsuit argues that recent budget cuts have violated this requirement.

In the last two years, $17 billion has been cut from schools and colleges, and several billion more in cuts are scheduled. California once was No. 1 in the country in per pupil spending; now it is 47th, spending $2,856 less per pupil than the national average, according to the California School Boards Association.

From 1929 to 1935, during the Great Depression, per pupil funding in California dropped 20 percent, according to Scott Plotkin, executive director of the California School Boards Association. In the last two years, per pupil funding in the state has gone down 18 percent.

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

Shool financing has been so battered by instability that it has been impossible for districts to deliver to California’s diverse student population the education guaranteed under the Constitution, the suit contends.

Only half of all California students are proficient in English-language arts nd less than half (approximately 46 percent) are proficient in math. In addition, less than 70 percent of California students graduate from high school.

Of course, even if the lawsuit is successful, it will take years to go through the California courts. California's leaders need to rethink their commitment to public education right now.

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By Valerie Strauss  | May 20, 2010; 1:05 PM ET
Categories:  Equity  | Tags:  Robles-Wong v. California, california and schools and lawsuit, california budget crisis, california lawsuit, california school crisis, funding lawsuit, funding lawsuit and california, schools lawsuit  
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Comments

"it has been impossible for districts to deliver to California’s diverse student population the education guaranteed under the Constitution"
So Diversity has a downside! Oh my.
"Only half of all California students are proficient in English-language arts "
Whose fault is that?
What fools these Californians be, to have let their formerly great State sink into such a mire.
60 years ago 99% of elementary students in Glendale, Burbank, Pasadena and other California cities spoke English, and most of them did well in school, even though there were 40 (well behaved) students per class. What the heck happened?

Posted by: ErikKengaard | May 20, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

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