Latest Filings in Lobato Case Remind of Need for Real School Finance Reform

Ed News reports that the State of Colorado has laid out its detailed argument in the appeal of the Lobato school funding case. Former governors of both political stripes joined the University of Colorado Board of Regents and a coalition of business leaders in submitting their formal backing with the State and against the lawsuit:

The state’s brief, along with most of the amicus briefs, attempts to make the point that the high court needs to consider all state budgetary needs, not just whether K-12 funding is constitutional, in making its eventual decision.

For those of you scratching your heads, last December’s ruling from Denver District Court Judge Sheila Rappaport not only asked the state legislature to pull an extra $2 billion or more per year from the magic hat to fund K-12 education but also blatantly ignored parts of the state’s constitution in doing so. Both the Democratic governor and Republican-majority State Board of Education agreed to appeal in fairly short order.

And why shouldn’t they? Whenever the Colorado Supreme Court gets around to hearing and ruling on this case, upholding the original decision would have enormous ramifications. On lawmakers charged with writing state budgets, on other state departments and services that could be squeezed out, on taxpayers whose constitutional protections could be put in jeopardy. And let’s not forget the students themselves….

What do I mean? A ruling that says Colorado’s school funding system is broken so let’s just pour in additional billions and hope for the best would only pile false hopes on top of all the other problems it would create. After a decade of continuing per-student, real dollar increases in Colorado K-12 funding, rather than pump taxpayers for more money (especially through the courts), let’s rethink how we finance student learning success.