Texas School Funding Litigation

Texas Observer:

Exactly. If you look at Justice [Nathan] Hecht’s opinion in West Orange Cove II [the last school finance case] in 2004, he says, after upholding me on the property tax issue, “Look, there’s really a lot of evidence that the court considered about how the schools are underperforming.” An achievement gap between economically advantaged and disadvantaged. There’s an achievement gap in the race characteristics. And between rural and urban. There were a number of problems. He lays them out and he goes, “You know, just looking at it, we think it’s just barely constitutional, but it could get worse.”

When I was drafting the [latest] judgment, I took every one of those things, and every one had gotten worse, and we could quantify it. Two hundred thousand students in the Texas higher education system are taking remedial math and remedial English. The achievement gap between the economically advantaged and disadvantaged — which had been narrowing as they put more money in — was now widening. The English-language learner (ELL) students, they were not catching the train. And what was really sad is that there was evidence in the trial that if the students stayed in the ELL program four to six years, they performed better in every test — SAT, any of the STAAR tests — than any other demographic group. Better than rich white kids? Yeah. They had developed cognitive abilities in two different languages. So it takes a period of time. But if they do it, the children will succeed more often than not.

A conversation on Texas and Wisconsin academic outcomes.