Friday, June 23, 2017

Lawyers Weigh In On The Lack of Federal Oversight of Discriminatory State & Local School Funding Systems

Lawyers Weigh In On
The Lack of Federal Oversight
of Discriminatory State & Local
School Funding Systems

Luis Ángel Pérez
Educator & Advocate  
June 2017

… Four Attorneys … Come At School Finance …

“Today, I have the opportunity to moderate a very important conversation
about a subject that gets little attention but it impacts everyone, and that’s
School Finance.”

“… I have an opportunity to speak … with
four attorneys who come at school finance from different stand points.”

Gerard Robinson,
Moderator; Resident Fellow of the American Enterprise Institute of Education Policy Studies;
Former Education Commissioner of Florida, 2011-12;
Former Education Secretary of Virginia, 2010-11.
February 13, 2017

Unfortunately, We’ve Sacrificed
Generations of Children
at the Altar of State & Local Control.”

“… school funding is
the foundation of the opportunities that are provided in the classroom.”

“… in the United States, somehow,
we’ve gotten to a place where we’ve decided that it is just fine
for some kids to get a world class education
and others to get a really poor education, poor quality education.”

“… I want to talk about …”

“How the law has contributed to that?”
“What the law can do about it? … ”

“… some ideas on shifting our understanding of education
and the role of the Federal Government
and State Governments … within education.”

“… one of the things that a recent commission, ...”

“… The Excellent & Equity Commission, …”

“… found in a 2013 report, … by a bipartisan commission,
commissioned by President Obama, and it …”

“… studied issues of education & equity
in the United States, …”

“… one of the things it said is that …”

“… the United States & families are burden by
the broken system of school funding in the United States.”

Why is it broken?

“… schools are funded, in part, through Property Taxes.”

“… that imbeds a certain inequality into funding
because of disparate property values…”

“… that’s just one of the challenges within the education funding…”

“State Funding Formulas
don’t adequately address the disparities that they create
particularly for little income children.”

“How funding is distributed
in light of poverty?”

“… what research tells us, and this is a consistent finding,
is that low income children need about 40% more resources
to compete on a level plane field with … their middle income peers.”

This 40% number has been confirmed in research
but also the Federal Government uses this number for
handing out funding for poverty in a number of grants that it does.”

“… so if you look at funding, the question is …”

“In light of this research,
do the States address this in our
funding formulas?”

“… let’s look at what we can see.”

“… these are the States that have Regressive-Funding formulas.”

“… regressive means
they give less funding to districts of high poverty.”

“So for example, in our neighboring State of Virginia,
they give 86 cents for every dollar they give
to middle income students.”

“So, this is 21 States that have regressive funding”.

“If you look at the States like … [audio disrupted]
about the same funding for low income and high income districts.
These are the 15 States that have

“… if you look at Progressive-Funding,
you have only 12 States.”

“This is 2013-14 data.
That’s the most recent data available.”

“… here’s a map with all of these States … put together but …
the challenge that you see from this map is that …”

“Much of school funding does not address the fact that
we know from research that
low income children and districts
need additional funding and
funding formulas aren’t designed to address that.”

“What Else Is Happening With Funding Formulas?”

… School Funding Formulas Are Not Tailored Actually
To Provide The Funding Necessary To Achieve
The Goals of The Education System.

“Well, one of the things that school finance litigation,
over the past, more than, 4 years,
has revealed is that …”

“… school funding formulas are not tailored actually
to provide the funding necessary to achieve
the goals of the education system.”

“What does that mean?”

“Well, often times school funding and
the amount that’s given
is really subject to Political Bargaining
where you have an amount in the budget allocated for education,
the lawmakers … barter over how much each district is going to get, …
 and that’s the amount that’s given to the district.”

“The challenge with that … as you might see,
is that we have a system of State Standards in every State …”

“… set aside whether it’s the Common-Core Standards,
the Standard of Learning in Virginia,
or any other such Standard …”

“… but the
 funding formula is often not tied to
how much it cost to get all children to succeed
on those Standards.”

“And so that, of course,
sets-up children to not have the resources that they need
to pass the benchmarks for proficiency
that are established in State Standards.”

“So that’s another challenge with them.”

“So, even if you have a progressive State
but you have very low funding
that of course is not going to provide adequate resources
to learn what is in the State’s Standards.”

“And then finally, we have …”

Insufficient Oversight of State Funding Systems.

“What does that mean?”

“… that we don’t have enough oversight
of the systems to make sure that the money we are putting in
is being spent efficiently. And that’s important as well.”

“… are we spending that money wisely
to get the results that we need?”

“So, there are a number of weaknesses
within school funding system, the question is …

How have we, how has this arisen?
What are the causes?”

“So, … San Antonio Independent versus Rodriguez
was a case that was decided in 1973 by the United States Supreme Court.
It’s brought in Texas … by American Mexican families who said,
‘the low funding that we receive in our districts
violates the United States Constitution
and particularly the equal protection clause.’”

“They argued that there’s a fundamental right to education
and that their right was being violated by the low funding
that they got and the very poor opportunities they were given.”

“… the United States Supreme Court rejected that argument
and said that, ‘the United States Constitution
does not guarantee your right to education’
and that instead that this was, ‘an issue that
should be left to the States.’”

“That, ‘State & Local control was an important value in American Education;
we must allow the States to work on this issue.’

“Even though the Supreme Court said,

‘We do acknowledge that there is significant inequality and we do,
 we are, sort of, encouraging the States to work on it,
but we don’t feel that we are the experts to address questions …’

… that just Mr. Robinson referenced which is …

‘Does money matter for education?’

“Who should answer that question?”

“The court said,  
‘We are not the people to answer that question.’

“In addition,
the court also acknowledged that
issues of Federalism were at play here which is

it did not want, sort of, Federal take-over
of all the State funding Systems.”

“So instead,
‘we’re going to not upset this Federal-State Balance
and allow the State to address this issue.’

“What has happened?”

“Well, more than 40 years later, you can see,
certainly there’s been some progress from School Finance Litigation.”

“Many school funding systems are more equitable today
than they were when the Rodriguez litigation was brought.”

what you also see is that there’s a …”

 Lack of Federal Accountability
for Equitable Funding.”

“For funding that says …”

“… we need to address how much kids need
and make sure those kids get it.”

“And because of that …”

“We have no way to make sure that
States are going to move in the direction of
providing more equitable funding.”

“… What happens when you
Close the Federal Courthouse Doors
to School Funding Litigation?”

“… what has happened is that
State Courts have not been an effective mechanism
for making sure that all kids
get the resources they need to achieve.”

“We need to think about
reshaping our understanding of
Education Federalism.”

“So, what does that mean?”

“We have a … view in American society that
State & Local control is one of the paramount values.”

“Unfortunately –
we’ve sacrificed generations of children
at the altar of State & Local control.”

“We have said –
that is far more important than
these children getting a great education.”

“We need to make sure that
we have some partnership between
the Federal Government

and the State & Local Government
to make sure that
kids are getting what they need.”

“And we need to draw upon the strengths
in State Governments and Local Governments but …”

“We also need not be afraid
of the strength that the Federal Government brings.”

“Whether that be additional funding,
whether it be research assistance,
whether it be technical assistance …”

“… the Federal Government has a lot of resources
that the States would greatly benefit for …”

“… if we weren’t so afraid of having them have
greater involvement with education …”

“… in ways that still allow the States to serve
as the mechanisms for innovation, experimentation.”

“And so, I think we need to
challenge our understanding of Education Federalism,
shift to a greater & stronger partnership
that allows for the Federal & State Governments
to work together in ways that build on
the strengths and needs, …”

“… and that aren’t so … afraid of having
the Federal Government involved in Education.”

Kimberly Robinson,
Professor of Law at the University of Richmond;
Practiced Law in the Private Sector;
Former U.S. Department of Education Attorney;
Graduate of Harvard Law School;
Former Clerk for the 9th Circuit Court;
Co-Author of book titled
The Enduring Legacy of Rodriguez:
 Creating New Pathways to Equal Educational Opportunity
February 13, 2017

The Best Way to Strengthen Public Schools
Is To Strengthen Public Schools.”

“This notion of education being the great equalizer
is such a farce
when you look at how unequally and inequitably
our schools are funded in the States
and across the country.”

“We need a system that allows
the competition that we talk about in rhetoric
to be real.”

“You can’t expect students from some School Districts
to compete with other students in other School Districts
when they are provided …”

“… inadequately prepared school teachers,
when the States and Federal Governments push
these temporary faculty agencies to try and provide relief
for a couple of years before those teachers leave those students,
and when you just totally divorce the funding system
from research and policy.”

“Market based reforms …”

Have not led to improved educational opportunities.”
“It has not led to improved learning opportunities.”

“It has led to improve earnings from private corporations.”
“It has led to improved salaries for administrators
heading non-profit organizations,
heading some of these Charter Schools, …”

“But it has not led to improved learning & opportunity.”

“The best way to strengthen Public Schools
is to strengthen Public Schools.”

David Hinojosa,
National Director of Policy for the Intercultural Development Research Association,
Former Staff Attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense Educational Fund,
Graduate of the University of Texas Law School.
February 13, 2017

The above depicts some of what was asserted by experts during a conference titled,
School Finance & Opportunity: The Law and The Road Ahead,
hosted by the American Enterprise Institute, (February 13, 2017).

To learn more or watch the entire conference, visit their website
or click on one of the links provided below.

American Enterprise Institute, (AEI), February 13, 2017.


Let’s End Abuse of Power In Our Schools
Awareness Is Power So Please Continue To Follow

Luis Ángel Pérez,
Degrees in Psychology & Education,
Mental Health, Social Services, 
Public School Science & Mathematics,
Dual Language Middle School Seventh & Eighth Grades,
Elementary School First & Fourth Grades,
Educator & Advocate.

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