Saturday, December 10, 2011

Denver judge: Funding for Colorado schools must increase, big-time

This stuff is above my brain grade, but it doesn't sound good. The Post:
In a ruling that could have profound consequences for Colorado's budget, a Denver judge Friday said the state's school-funding system is not "thorough and uniform" as mandated by the state constitution.

The state's school-funding system "is not rationally related to the mandate to establish and maintain a thorough and uniform system of free public schools," District Judge Sheila Rappaport said in a 183-page ruling in which she called the system "unconscionable."

"It is also apparent that increased funding will be required," Rappaport wrote. . . .
But, but, I thought Amendment 23 was going to take care of things for eber and eber . . .
The case, Lobato vs. State of Colorado, was filed in 2005. It originated with a group of parents in the San Luis Valley but expanded to include districts from across the state.

Lawyers for the state, represented by Attorney General John Suthers' office, argued that the question of how much should be spent on education should be left to the legislature and voters. They also said more money alone is not necessarily the solution to better schools.
Demncrats argued this. Wow.
But Rappaport clearly disagreed.

"There is not enough money in the system to permit school districts across the state to properly implement standards-based education and to meet the requirements of state law and regulation," she wrote in her ruling. "This is true for districts of every description. . . . There is not one school district that is sufficiently funded. This is an obvious hallmark of an irrational system." . . .
"There is not one school district that is sufficiently funded . . ."? Not even Cherry Creek, the rich kid district that is freqently compared to districts that have to school their kids in old nuclear-bomb shelters? Wow.
Eric Brown, spokesman for [Democratic] Gov. John Hickenlooper, said the state will almost certainly appeal the decision to the Colorado Supreme Court​.

"The court clearly invited an appeal, and we believe an appeal is likely," Suthers spokesman Mike Saccone said. "It was clearly very tempting for the District Court judge to wade into what is a public policy debate." . . .

The lawsuit doesn't seek money. However, one consultant hired by Halpern and Gebhardt estimated the state's current funding system falls short by as much as $4 billion a year.

The state now spends more than 40 percent, or $3.2 billion in the 2010-11 fiscal year that ended in June, of its almost $7 billion general fund on K-12 schools.
Coloradans in November, by a 2-to-1 margin, shot down a $3 billion tax-increase measure for schools.
When times are good, Coloradoweenians will vote "yes" on almost any spending measure; when times are bad . . .
Sen. Evie Hudak, D-Westminster, a former schoolteacher and State Board of Education member, hailed the decision. "It makes a statement about the necessity of adequate school funding."

Sen. Keith King, R-Colorado Springs, a witness in the case, also was shocked, but not so ecstatic.

"Wow," he said. "Wow. Wow. This ruling is extremely disappointing."
Bastard took my "wows." Like I say, this is too wonky for me. Maybe Ms Linda Seebach, who used to write about (among much other stuffs) education stuffs for the Rocky Mountain News, will try to make sense of it. The policy ginks at the People's Press Collective (of which, believe it or not, the D-blog is a founding member) will surely have multiple somethings. I'll keep my face peeled.

Update: The overly modest Ms Seebach responds in comments:

Thanks for the memories, but I've been away too long to wade into this. Sounds as if the judge is way over her head, too; whatever is wrong with schools, it isn't lack of money. School spending has doubled or tripled (yes, adjusted for inflation!) over the last several decades with virtually nothing to show for it.
Hell, even I knew that.

Update II: Randall Smith at the People's Press Collective is suitably restrained: "Denver judge blows up Colorado education spending."

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