Northern California Record

Monday, February 24, 2020

Court of appeals upholds decision of lower court throw out school funding case

By Dawn Geske | Jul 14, 2016

General court 02

ALAMEDA – A California appeals court has upheld the decision of the lower court to throw out the case regarding the state’s education funding system as being adequate and equal.

In a 2-1 decision in April, the appeals court struck down the right for the plaintiffs to try the case, which is a combination of two lawsuits by the Campaign for Quality Education, California Parent-Teacher Association, the California Teachers Association and California’s associations of school board members and administrators.

The lawsuit challenges California’s Constitution, which says it provides for quality education for all students. Through the lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege that California is not providing adequate and equal funding to properly provide quality education for all students, essentially creating an education gap between poor students and more-affluent students.

The plaintiffs argue that California is not providing enough funding to its schools to make the level of quality education possible for all students.

“The key to Campaign for Quality Education is that the plaintiffs allege that the system under which schools are funded, which is an incredibly complicated mishmash of provisions, provokes in education and equity between richer schools and poorer schools," said Catherine Fisk, law professor at the University California, Irvine Law School to the Northern California Record. “And, that in poorer schools inadequate funding violates the California Article 9 Constitutional requirement that the state provide for common schools in every district.

“The litigant seeks to force the state to reexamine the funding system to ensure that in poor schools, as in rich ones, students are receiving a quality education,” she said.

Additional funding to make all schools equal in providing education could mean more tools to teach as well as funding to update buildings and provide repair.

“What it would mean, particularly for schools in poorer districts, is that the state would be obligated to ensure that the funds are adequate to meet the needs of students to get the level of education to some level of adequacy,” said Fisk. “Whether that’s for more books, for repairs to the building or adequate numbers of adequately trained teachers, it could be a whole range of things that might flow from it. But, essentially what it would mean is that the state is responsible for ensuring local schools have enough resources to educate the kids of the school.”

“And,” Fisk said, “That wouldn’t just depend on the happenstance of whether a school is in a wealthier district where there is more money or a poorer district where there is less.”

This case comes after the dismissal of the Vergara lawsuit by the court of appeals, which argued that education for the poor and minorities would be improved if job security was eliminated for teachers, allowing for more quality teachers to be sought and retained in poorer school districts.

The plaintiffs in this education funding case have said they will most likely take the case to the California Supreme Court after being dismissed by the court of appeals.

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University California, Irvine School of Law