Lawsuit claims school funding system unlawful


By Bay City News Service

A group of individuals, state education associations, and school districts throughout California announced Thursday morning (May 20) that they have filed a lawsuit against the state claiming the current education financial system is unconstitutional.

They are requesting that the state be required to establish a new financial system that provides districts with adequate resources to meet the academic goals set by the state.

"This lawsuit is a last resort," said Frank Pugh, president of the California School Board Association. The lawsuit was filed in Alameda County Superior Court.

Mr. Pugh added that both the governor and the state Legislature have failed to act on this issue despite the abundance of evidence suggesting it should be a priority for the state.

Plaintiffs in the case include a number of Bay Area representatives, including both the Alameda and San Francisco county school districts. The lead plaintiff in the case, Maya Robles-Wong, is an 11th-grade student at Alameda High School.

Sixty other individuals are named as plaintiffs in the suit, along with nine school districts, the California School Board Association, the Association of California School Administrators, and the California State PTA.

The suit has received some funding from the various associations involved, but law firms up and down the state, such as the Stanford Youth & Education Law Clinic, have been working on the case pro-bono.

The complaint claims that the state has cut nearly $17 billion from education in recent years, and that Proposition 98 -- which was supposed to protect the state's education funding -- has failed to solve worsening financial woes.

"Sadly, these cuts are just the tip of the iceberg," said Mr. Pugh.

In 2008-2009, California was ranked 44th in the country for student spending, dishing out roughly $2,131 less than the national average per pupil, per year, according to the complaint. In comparison, New York spent about $6,000 more per pupil, and Rhode Island and Vermont each spent double the amount that California spent per pupil.

The complaint cites a long list of dismal statistics as evidence that these economic deficiencies are having a detrimental impact on achievement. For instance, fewer than 70 percent of California students graduate from high school, half are proficient in English language arts, and less than half are proficient in math. Statistics worsen for disadvantaged students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

"The governor will oppose this lawsuit and believes the state will prevail," said Bonnie Reiss, California's Secretary of Education, in a statement. "The funding of public education in California has long been and continues to be a top priority of California, even in bad economic times."

California currently ranks among the lowest in the nation on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, taking 49th in student-teacher ratios, 48th in total school staff, 49th in guidance counselors, and 50th in librarians.

"The time for patience has passed," said Jo A.S. Loss, president of the California state PTA.

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Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 20, 2010 at 7:04 pm

When I went to school there were 30 to 35 kids in each class.
Despite this handicap, I attended Colgate Univ for undergrad and Univ of Michigan for graduate school.
The current class room size of 22 kids per class does not lead to better education but it does provide employements to more teachers.
Let's see 4 classes of 22 could be 3 classes fo 30.
Bingo, 25% less teachers are needed - end of budget problems.
Let's try that first then going back to the old standby MORE TAXES for every public employee looking to retire on 90% of their last salary while most private sector employees have seen their 401Ks devastated.
This scam has got to stop.
The residents and taxpayers should be in charge, the residents and taxpayers should decide how much they want to spend not the emnployees.

Like this comment
Posted by Do it!
a resident of another community
on May 20, 2010 at 10:09 pm

Let's start with your kids as a matter of fact your kids can be at the back of the classroom and they can wait for an answer until they forgot what they asked. I'll check back later when your property value is less than your mortgage by a couple 100K. This is the reason they have professionals and not the taxpayers in charge. By the way teachers can not retire at 90% they max out at 66%, most retire at 61.5 years old after 32 years of service. If you want someone to be mad at be mad at Shearson Lehman or Bernie Madoff.

Like this comment
Posted by R.Gordon
a resident of another community
on May 21, 2010 at 5:14 pm

Joe above must have had a good seat.
He went to a couple of mediocre low ranked universities.
If one lives in Silicon Valley area in one of the cities the Almanac serves, NO education is necessary to become a multimillionaire.
Crime and corruption do not require diplomas.

Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 21, 2010 at 6:25 pm

R.Gordon - Not to be too ornery, but might you tell us where you went to school?

I disagree about University of Michigan graduate school. I have no opinion about Colgate.

I went to Penn State and CMU.

Like this comment
Posted by halle
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on May 22, 2010 at 2:46 pm

Class sizes need to be kept small. The world is much different for people that graduated from college years ago!!

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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