What about facilities? Was facilities addressed by the court?
The funding gap for facilities in Texas is astounding. By the Supreme Court’s own admission, “property rich districts have more than 20 times as much value [per student] to tax for facilities as property-poor districts.” With high property values, rich districts can tax low but still have enough revenue to build phenomenal buildings. With low property values, property-poor districts must tax high but still cannot afford to build new buildings or adequately maintain existing ones.
To illustrate the point, the Supreme Court cited this statement from the district court: “Lacking sufficient funding, property-poor districts such as the Edgewood Intervenors have been unable to provide adequate facilities for all the children in their districts. Substandard conditions include: overcrowded schools and classrooms; out-of-date buildings, equipment and fixtures; inadequate libraries, science labs, cafeterias, gymnasiums and other school facilities.”
Why didn’t the Supreme Court rule that the inequity of facilities is unconstitutional, too?
While the Supreme Court acknowledged that facilities funding is inequitable, it did not rule that it is unfair enough to make the entire system “inefficient,” or unconstitutional. But the Supreme Court also did not rule out the possibility it may one day do so.
It is imperative that the state take steps to equalize facilities funding so that all students have the opportunity to receive an excellent education. It is also essential that public education supporters begin to compile evidence proving the harmful effects of run-down buildings on the education of Texas children. Said the Supreme Court: “The state defendants argue that to prove constitutional inefficiency the intervenors must offer evidence of an inability to provide for a general diffusion of knowledge without additional facilities and that they have failed to do so. Again, we agree.”
In other words, the court never said inadequate facilities do not harm the learning process, only, they did not see certain evidence to convince them.
See other questions and answers about the ruling and related issues