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This week in Alameda County court, a historic lawsuit was filed against the state of California declaring that the current educational finance system is broken and unconstitutional. Maya Robles-Wong v the State of California includes nine school districts, the California State PTA, the California School Board Association and the Association of California School Administrators. Maya Robles-Wong is a sixteen year old eleventh grader at Alameda High School. The lawsuit claims that students are being denied an opportunity to master mandated state educational programs because schools are being under-financed. The lawsuit declares that the “unsound, unstable and insufficient school finance system is neither aligned with required educational programs nor with student needs.” It seeks to remedy the educational finance system by requiring state lawmakers to design and implement a reformed finance system that provides all students equal access to mandated educational programs.
There are several things that I find interesting about this lawsuit beyond the fact that it was even allowed to be filed. In any lawsuit the plaintiff must prove damages and claiming that the state is not providing adequate financing to school districts to insure student success is a nebulous charge. As an educator I agree with the claim, but I believe a court of law will need concrete proof of unconstitutional wrongdoing and a clear and direct correlation between diminished finances and lack of student success. I also find it more than curious that the same individuals who believe that California ‘s finance system is dysfunctional are adamantly opposed to reviewing state property tax laws like Proposition 13 – which was the original death knell for California state education.
There is no doubt that the financial system of the Golden State is in dire disrepair and schools are suffering terribly because of it. However, this being the home of technology giants like Intel, Cisco, Google, Oracle and others, schools have had decades to supplement their budgets with creative resourcing. To depend wholly on state financing is not only antiquated, but dangerous and today ‘s recession is proof. We don ‘t need another lawsuit. (to waste more taxpayer dollars in court??) What we need are strong alliances with business and industry and partnerships that share the vision of an educated populace.