State Sen. José Rodríguez statement on school finance lawsuit

Equitable opportunity for education is not just the right thing to do; it’s required by the Texas Constitution.

Don’t be distracted by privatization schemes and testing regimes. Teachers and parents know what works in education. It starts with engaged parents and prepared children, motivated teachers with inspired curriculum, and decent facilities, but there is no substitute for adequate funding and no amount of “innovation” can overcome that.

My hope and belief is that the Texas Supreme Court will order the Legislature to fund public education at an appropriate level for all children to get a quality education.

I expect the Governor will call a Special Session on the issue at some point next year, and I am excited about the opportunity to fight for the future of this state. We cannot repeat 2006, when school finance reforms papered over the system’s structural deficiencies. We must make a historic change that ends the cycle of unfair and inadequate funding.

NOTE: While the per-pupil Basic Allotment within the school funding formula was slightly increased this past session, once adjusted for inflation, the increase disappears by 2017.

Meanwhile, funding for students whose first language is other than English, known as English Language Learners (ELLs), and economically disadvantaged students has not been re-evaluated for nearly 30 years.

This session, the Senate passed S.B. 161 by state Sen. Rodríguez, to study the additional funding needed to educate ELL students, who the courts found were especially impacted by the state’s public education funding scheme. While the bill did not pass the House, it should be one of the key items taken up in a Special Session.