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California Court of Appeals Denies Trial For Funding Lawsuit

California's Court of Appeal  ruled Wednesday 2-1 against a group of education advocates and parents challenging the constitutionality of the state's education spending, refusing to overturn a lower court ruling that blocked their suit from going to trial.  

In 2010, the several student advocacy groups, claimed in two separate lawsuits that the state's constitution guarantees a minimally funded quality education and that the state's then-existing funding formula did not meet that expectation.  

Later in 2010, the Alameda County Superior Court said that while the California constitution guarantees a quality education, it doesn't establish a minimum amount of spending or level of education every child should receive. The state's Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco, upheld that ruling, essentially denying the case a trial.  

"As much as I can appreciate the plaintiffs' frustration and dissatisfaction with the overall adequacy of California's public schools, and recognize our legislature's challenges in adequately funding schools to meet the standards it sets, I cannot agree that [the constitution] provides a right to command the state to fund schools at some qualitative level," wrote Associate Judge Peter Siggins.

Associate Judge Stuart Pollak wrote in his dissent,"As the majority of state courts addressing this issue has recognized, if the constitutional provision is to have meaning, it must imply that the system of common schools must provide some minimum qualitative level of education. Such a reading of (the constitution) is fully consistent with, if not compelled by, the importance that our Supreme Court historically has placed on the role of education and the recognition that it is a fundamental right of all the state's children."

The plaintiffs said they will appeal the cases, Maya Robles-Wong v. State of California and Campaign for Quality Education v. State of California, to the state's supreme court.  

Education Week wrote about this lawsuit in 2010 when it was first filed. At the time, the state's fiscal crisis had left districts across California making drastic cuts.  Since then, the state has redesigned its funding formula and increased its spending by historic amounts.  


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