Georgia on My Mind – “Adequacy” Lawsuit

Hoagy Carmichael, “Georgia on My Mind” (click to listen or download) — from the wonderful Pacific Jazz LP, Hoagy Sings Carmichael.

It looks like an “adequacy” lawsuit filed in Georgia over four years ago may finally go to trial this October. The suit, filed by the Consortium for Adequate School Funding in Georgia contends that:

The Georgia school funding system fails to provide school districts, including Plaintiff Districts as well as other districts, with the resources needed to educate their students to meet contemporary educational standards and competitively function in a society where a high school diploma constitutes the bare minimum gateway qualification for viable employment and higher education. The educational inadequacy in Plaintiff Districts and other districts is reflected, inter alia, in high drop-out and non-graduation rates, which result from insufficient resources to provide their students with educational opportunities and interventions reasonably calculated to prepare them to function as productive members of society.

1/3 of the districts in Georgia have joined in the suit.

The “Basics of of Georgia School Finance” are similar to those of the failing Wisconsin system in that both systems are based on a combination of state and local monies, there is basic floor of funding per student, there are categorical aids for some categories of students, it iss extremely complex and it doesn’t work.

There are also some differences, the biggest one being that where Wisconsin uses a system of primary, secondary and tertiary aids based on the district property wealth and spending for equalization between “rich” and “poor: districts, Georgia uses a “Quality Basic Education” formula and a 5 mill basis to figure the local share. At least I think that;s how it is supposed to work. As I said, it is extremely complex. There is a PowerPoint from the Governor’s Education Finance Task Force linked, that may do a better job explaining things.

The 2000 decision in the Wisconsin Vincent v. Voight adequacy suit was a mixed result. The Supreme Court ruled that the state finance system did not then violate the Constitution, but the court also set standards for judging the constitutionality of the system. A good case can be made that after eight more years of placing poperty taxes above education, the system no longer meets the constitutional standard as defined by the court. Unfortunately, with Annette Ziegler and Michael Gableman as part of anew majority on the court, making a good case really won’t matter.

Thomas J. Mertz

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Filed under "education finance", AMPS, Budget, education, Elections, Equity, finance, Local News, National News, School Finance, Uncategorized

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