Many lawyers, school administrators and so-called education experts – some genuine and some only claiming to be — have been heard from during the pending lawsuit over Texas’ school funding system, but students have been mostly unheard – until now.
Ten high school students from Houston spent their summer vacations researching and writing a legal brief about how crucial it is to their futures for the state to provide adequate education funding and distribute it fairly among school districts. They have submitted their brief to the Texas Supreme Court, which is considering the state’s appeal of a lower court ruling that found the finance system inadequate, unfair and unconstitutional.
According to the Austin American-Statesman, the students used “personal stories and interviews with teachers, administrators and other students to tell the court’s nine justices how their lives and futures could be improved with smaller class sizes, more qualified teachers, improved enrichment programs and enhanced college or career readiness initiatives.”
Their interviewees included the principal of a Houston high school that is about 75 percent Hispanic and almost 100 percent low-income enrollment, where critical programs have had to be cut for budgetary reasons. Statewide, more than 60 percent of public school students are low-income, and hundreds of schools are struggling with similar issues.
“Above all else, students need hope: hope that they can live a better life than their parents, hope that they can really have a chance, hope that they, too, matter,” the students wrote.
And, they pointed out, the improvements and the hope they are seeking will require more money, the same conclusion that state District Judge John Dietz reached after hearing testimony in the lawsuit brought by several hundred school districts.
Let us hope that the Supreme Court justices give weight to what the students have to say. But the justices have competing briefs to read, including one from Gov. Greg Abbott, who wants the high court to reverse the lower court. Abbott wants the court to trust the legislative majority, which slashed education funding by $5.4 billion a few years ago and continues to shortchange schools.
That’s what you call putting political ideology for the next election over hope for the next generation.