State Sen. Wendy Davis, the likely Democratic nominee for governor, is calling on Attorney General Greg Abbott to come to the table and reach a settlement agreement in legal case challenging the constitutionality of the state’s school finance system.
As Travis County District Judge John Deitz weighs hundreds of pieces of evidence in the lawsuit, Davis called on Abbott, who is representing the state in the case and is Davis' likely Republican opponent in the governor's race, to make sure Texas school districts are adequately funded.
Travis County District Judge John Dietz has finished hearing closing arguments in the Texas school finance lawsuit and now attorneys from both sides await a decision. Dietz is taking his time to formulate an opinion because the case will likely go to the Texas Supreme Court.
"I think the evidence was pretty compelling that restoring some of the money just didn’t fix all the problems," said Houston attorney David Thompson, who represents a large group of schools in the lawsuit.
Thomas Ratliff, a Republican seated on the State Board of Education, which is one of the defendants in the Texas school finance trial, says he hopes his side loses in the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of how schools are funded in the state.
"I think we go back to the drawing board and put the school finance system back together without all the bubble gum and bailing wire we’ve added to it," Ratliff said. "The system is so out of whack that we’ve got A, big disparities; B, inefficient distribution system; and an inadequate funding level."
According to the Texas Education Agency, nearly a quarter of all high school juniors have fell short of end-of-course graduation requirements -- those numbers were what attorneys led with on day two of the Texas school finance trial.
According to the TEA, over 309,000 students met the necessary requirements and passed a set of end-of-course exams in order to graduate in 2015, which works out to about 76 percent of all Texas high school juniors.
Nearly a year ago Travis County District Judge John Dietz ruled that the system used to fund schools in Texas was unconstitutional, but didn’t reduce that order to writing. The same trial is once again underway but this time with different evidence to consider.
Dietz gave the Texas Legislature another chance to replace the $5.4 billion that was cut from public education funding in the 2011 session.
"It has been the consistent desire of this court to present the most up to date data to the Texas Supreme Court for their consideration," Dietz said.
The fight over public school funding continues with another installment of Judge John Dietz’s courtroom. In February of last year he ruled that the state funding levels were unconstitutional.
In the last legislative session the state restored $3.4 billion of the more than $5 billion they cut the previous session, but was it enough? And with the current political backdrop will education be in the spotlight for the remaining months? Will it be an effective and compelling issue for Texas voters?
Hundreds of school districts from across the state will head back to court on Jan. 21 to once again examine the Texas legislature’s formula for funding education. Attorneys are arguing that new money and reduced student testing did little to improve the way Texas finances the public school system.
Texas Matters: The embattled Texas school finance system continues to discriminate against districts in poorer areas. Right now the Johnny Manziel autograph controversy is one of the biggest storylines in sports, and Texas Monthly explores his role as an American anti-hero. Also on this episode: Texas contract workers have little protection from injury and wage theft, but the Workers Defense Project is trying to change that. Sunday is the 200th anniversary of the "tremendous slaughter" that was the Battle of Medina.
Travis County District Judge John Dietz has reopened the State’s school financing case in light of recent legislation that restored some of the funding taken away from school districts in 2011.
“The passage of the wealth of bills during this 83rd legislature has created a situation where in the interest we need to assay and concentrate as to whether that legislation changed the circumstances,” Dietz said.