State Judge Rules School Finance System Unconstitutional

Two years ago, Texas lawmakers cut about $5 billion from public education. The move triggered the latest lawsuit over the school finance system, which has been in and out of court for decades. Today a state judge issued a major ruling in the case.

The legal battle lasted more than forty days.

On one side, more than six hundred school districts. They included Houston, Katy, and Cypress-Fairbanks.

On the other side, the state.

Charles “Rocky” Rhodes is a professor at South Texas College of Law. He explains what the districts argued.

“They’re arguing that the system has become inefficient because of some of the inequalities that are being seen, especially with larger districts like Houston versus some of the smaller more property wealth districts.”

State District Judge John Dietz sided with the school districts.

He called the finance system inadequate and unconstitutional, because it works like a state property tax.

Lynn Moak is an education consultant and advised many districts in the case.

“This is the most sweeping decision that we’ve had in public school finance in all the cases that have been before the courts.”

For districts like Houston, the ruling is a major win.

Anna Eastman is president of the HISD board of trustees. She hopes there will be real change from the Texas Legislature.

“It’s time for someone to step up and help us figure out a system that makes sense for kids.”

The case is expected to be appealed and end up before the Texas Supreme Court.

From the KUHF Education Desk, I’m Laura Isensee.

Bio photo of Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for KUHF, including K-12 and higher education.

Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and regularly contributed to WLRN, the local NPR affiliate and Miami Herald news partner...