Attorneys across the state have their homework cut out for them this summer.
As the October trial for the school finance lawsuit nears, lawyers are working hard to determine their strategies, arguments and evidence to address what they call an over-reliance on local property taxes to meet increased education standards and unfairness in school funding distribution. They say both issues put students at a great disadvantage.
This week, attorneys with the Ft. Bend ISD Group—one of five plaintiffs involved in the massive Texas school finance lawsuit—took their first statement under oath in preparation for the fall trial.
“We have rising standards and we just reduced funding,” David Thompson with the Ft. Bend ISD Group said. "We will never take the position that money solves all problems. We will 100 percent agree that it has to be money well spent."
Lawyers representing the plaintiffs say the state’s heavy reliance on standardized testing is not a good use of money, considering a majority of students are at an economic disadvantage.
“You start to see a gap that’s reemerged between the performance of those students and other students in meeting those standards,” attorney Philip Fraissinet said.
The Ft. Bend ISD group is focused on remedies—making sure sound, court-ordered studies of the problem result from the estimated six-week trial.
“Obviously we can’t order the legislature to appropriate money," Thompson said. "I think we can make sure the legislature has good information to make good decisions.”