In Fifth School Finance Suit, A Focus on Efficiency

A group of parents in Texas filed the fifth school finance lawsuit in Austin today, focusing not on whether the state adequately pays for schools but rather if the way it distributes money is efficient and equitable.

A group of parents in Texas filed the state's fifth school finance lawsuit in Austin today. 

The lawsuit represents a new angle on the funding issue — one that focuses not on whether the state adequately pays for schools but rather if the way it distributes money is efficient and equitable. The plaintiffs, including a group called Texans for Real Efficiency and Equity in Education, believe that the system has not offered enough choice to parents who want to put their children in good public schools. (Download the pleading, in which the group asks to intervene in the lawsuit that's already been filed, to the left.)

TREE's founder, James Jones, said in a statement that Waiting for Superman, a documentary that highly praises charter schools, inspired him to "dedicate his personal time and resources to the cause of saving children who are trapped in dysfunctional and inefficient public schools in Texas."

“Imagine if a parent didn’t think their child’s physician was meeting their kid’s needs and the law made it nearly impossible for them to change doctors. We owe it to our kids to do better than this,” said Jones, who runs a mineral royalty firm.

The lawsuit has high-profile supporters: Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Craig Enoch is a co-counsel, and former House Public Education Chairman Kent Grusendorf, R-Arlington, who left the Legislature in 2006, is the executive director of TREE.

In a statement, lead attorney Chris Diamond said the Texas Supreme Court has ruled that the question of funding is secondary to the question of efficiency. He said court has “issued a wide invitation for structural, qualitative reform that extends beyond the singular question of adequate funding" which the current system has not met.

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Reference
  • TREE School Finance Complaint