- Ruling on a case that was first filed by four school districts in 2010, the Kansas Supreme Court said Thursday the state’s public school finance system “is not reasonably calculated to have all Kansas public education students meet or exceed minimum constitutional standards of adequacy,” according to a report by NPR.
- Justices said the plaintiffs provided convincing evidence connecting school funding with student performance, and 2015-16 academic results show nearly half of all black students in Kansas and more than one-third of students considered low-income do not meet grade-level proficiency standards in reading and math.
- Base per-pupil funding was $3,780 in 2012, and the court said an amount closer to $4,654 would better position the state to meet its constitutional commitment to providing an adequate education. Lawmakers will have until June 30 to create a new financing system.
In virtually every state, education advocates have taken their fight to the courts, arguing that state commitments to providing public education are not being met because of inequitable or insufficient funding formulas. As of February, according to the National Access Network, 16 states had successfully defended against such claims. On the other hand, plaintiffs in 22 states won their cases, either at the state supreme court level or an un-appealed lower court. Plaintiffs in Kansas now join this group. Another dozen states have pending litigation.
Because access to public education is not guaranteed at the federal level, the states are where these fights play out. But fixing funding inequities is a difficult fight, especially when lawmakers are committed to defending money for their districts at all costs.