Updated 02/06/2013 11:55 AM
Lawyers reflect on school finance ruling
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After a three-month trial, District Judge John Dietz ruled Monday that the Texas School Finance system is unconstitutional.
The ruling was a success for the more than 600 Texas school districts that were party to the lawsuit, though the state will likely appeal. But regardless what happens in the courts, lawyers and lawmakers are now tasked with fixing a Texas public school system that many say is broken.
"We fully expect the supreme court to uphold Judge Dietz's ruling. We think the evidence is very compelling and we think the law is clear,” attorney David Thompson said.
Thompson and a team of attorneys represent Fort Bend Independent School District. The district is part of a core plaintiff group of 84 districts and more than 1.8 million students.
"If and when the Supreme Court upholds Judge Dietz's ruling, I think it will have a fundamental impact on our school funding system in Texas," Thompson said.
Those siding with the state fear the only viable solution will be to raise taxes in order to fully fund education.
"We feel that the problems in Texas education are just too complex to be solved by just adding more money,” James Gosan with the Texas Public Policy Foundation said. “We have been spending more on education over the last 10 years we haven't seen academic improvement and think it is time to try something else."
A solution is needed that will dramatically change the way cash flows through the school system.
"I don't think it is an understatement to say that the bill that resolves yesterday's decision is going to be one of the most comprehensive and far reaching pieces of legislation that we have seen in the education system certainly over my lifetime," education expert Lynn Moak said.
Fort Bend ISD’s lawyers predict that if the case goes to direct appeal, it could be a year until the Texas Supreme Court reaches a verdict. They hope lawmakers will work on finding a solution before that decision is reached.
In a written statement, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said he disagrees with Monday's ruling and expects an immediate appeal. He said that in the meantime, he will work with the 83rd Legislature to improve public education.