In 2011, the largest school finance case in the state’s history, Texas Taxpayer and Student Fairness Coalition vs. Williams, was filed consisting of 443 public school districts and representing more than 1.5 million school children. Below is a general timeline and links to IDRA statements with related resources.
2011 Case Filed – Fair Funding is Essential to Having Excellent Schools for All Texas Students – In December of 2011, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed its lawsuit against the state of Texas over school funding on behalf of four property-poor school districts and three parents. The MALDEF case demonstrated that the Texas system of funding public education is both inequitable for all students and inadequate for low-income students and English learner students.
2012 Trial Held – IDRA Director of Policy, Dr. Albert Cortez, Testifies in School Finance Case – Dr. Albert Cortez, IDRA director of policy, presented expert testimony based on IDRA’s analysis of school funding equity across the state. “We found that the Texas system of school finance is still inequitable, inadequate, arbitrary and inefficient,” summarized Dr. Cortez. His testimony addressed funding disparities, related tax yield disparities, underfunding for English learners and low-income students, impact on high school attrition, and the effects of the recent special program cuts. “In Texas, the quality of schooling still seems to be markedly affected by the neighborhood in which you happen to reside.” See the slides from Dr. Albert Cortez’s testimony on December 3, 2012, in the school finance trial. See the IDRA’s initial report, “the Extent of Equity in the Texas School Finance System and Its Impact on Selected Student Related Issues.”
2013 Ruling – Court Rules: Texas School Funding Must Serve All Students Equitably – The ruling on February 4, 2013, by the Texas District Court, Judge John Dietz presiding, that the Texas school finance system as currently constructed violates the Texas Constitution affirms what communities and educators have known for years. Our state clearly is not providing the resources necessary to educate all children to the high levels that are needed in the 21st century. Consonant with the ruling of the district court, IDRA calls for the following: The time for increased and equitable funding is now – What is needed are critical resources, not more time; Special population funding increases are required; Target revenue and hold-harmless funding should be ended with no more phasing out; Public funding must be reserved for public schools; and Facilities funding priority should be given to public schools. See the statement by Dr. María “Cuca” Robledo Montecel, IDRA President and CEO and related resources.
2014 Second Ruling – Court Rules Again that Texas School Funding Must Serve All Students Equitably – The Texas District Court, Judge John Dietz presiding, ruled in August of 2014 that the Texas school finance system violates the Texas Constitution. Judge Dietz ruled that the current funding system is “constitutionally inadequate, unsuitable and financially inefficient.” Dr. María “Cuca” Robledo Montecel, IDRA President & CEO, said: “The state of Texas has struggled with inadequate, inequitable education funding for far too long – perpetuating funding schemes that value some groups of schools and students over others. That was the old Texas. It is time for the new Texas – one that provides equal educational opportunity not for just some – but for all of its children.”
2015 Texas Supreme Court Hears Appeal – Court Can End Neglect of Millions of School Children – The Texas Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the largest school finance case in the state’s history, Texas Taxpayer and Student Fairness Coalition vs. Williams. The hearing came 369 days after the Texas District Court ruled that the state’s funding system is “constitutionally inadequate, unsuitable and financially inefficient.” Much is at stake as the court decides whether or not to ensure that the state provides equal educational opportunity not for just some, but for all, of its children.
2016 Texas Supreme Court Ruling – Fair Funding is Nonnegotiable – Texas Must Have Excellent Schools for All: The Texas Supreme Court Ruling Does not Excuse State Policymakers from Putting Texas Children First – In its ruling on school funding, the Texas Supreme Court failed to ensure the constitutional right to a quality education for school children in the state of Texas. The court issued its decision in the Texas Taxpayer and Student Fairness Coalition vs. Michael Williams, et al., case. Previously, the Texas District Court ruled that the current funding system is “constitutionally inadequate, unsuitable and financially inefficient.” The Texas Supreme Court stated however, “Despite the imperfections of the current school funding regime, it meets minimum constitutional requirements.”