Texas School Finance System Back In Court

Updated links, video, audio: The Texas Supreme Court heard oral arguments Sept. 1, 2015 in the largest school finance case in the state’s history, Texas Taxpayer and Student Fairness Coalition vs. Williams.

You can replay the oral arguments at this link: http://texassupremecourt.mediasite.com/mediasite/Play/c847ddd9799840ff8715350ba287d6cd1

Listen to the conversation with IDRA's Director of Policy, Albert Cortezon Texas Public Radio's The Source on Sept. 9 at this link.

This dashboard is pulling in news from several sources on the Texas School Finance trial here  social media on the Texas School Finance trial and issue here   and related sites, including trial summary news here.

IDRA research, Data source: Texas Attorney General's office

More than 500 school districts enrolling three-fourths of Texas school children, as well as parents, students, the Texas Charter School Association and others, sued Texas for failing to ensure a quality education for all students. This article contains comments from parents and teachers about how their children were affected.

Al Kauffman, an attorney for  the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, was the lead counsel for the Edgewood ISD plaintiffs in the school finance lawsuit from 1984 to 2002. Now a  a professor of law at St. Mary’s University School of Law, Kauffman wrote this article for the San Antonio Express-News plainly explaining what is at stake: The Texas Constitution requires - and our students deserve - equality.

MALDEF’s Interim Regional Counsel Marisa Bono presented the argument for the Edgewood ISD Plaintiffs on Sept. 1.

The hearing came 369 days after the Texas District Court ruled that the state’s funding system is “constitutionally inadequate, unsuitable and financially inefficient.” Much is at stake as the court decides whether or not to ensure that the state provides equal educational opportunity not for just some, but for all, of its children.

The oral argument agenda follows. When replaying the video at this link,  use the on-screen court documents to navigate among the speakers.

  • State: 45 minutes
  • Charter Schools: 10 minutes
  • Intervenors: 10 minutes
  • Fort Bend ISD Plaintiffs: 15 minutes
  • Calhoun County ISD Plaintiffs: 15 minutes
  • Edgewood ISD Plaintiffs: 15 minutes
  • Texas Taxpayer & Student Fairness Coalition: 15 minutes
  • State: 15 minutes for rebuttal
  • Intervenors: 5 minutes for rebuttal
  • Charter Schools: 5 minutes for rebuttal


A number of amicus briefs were filed, including one by the national Education Law Center (ELC) along with several Texas organizations in support of low-income and English language learner students urging the court to affirm the trial court’s ruling. Joining ELC on the amicus brief were the Center for Public Policy Priorities, Mexican American School Board Members Association (MASBA), San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Texas Appleseed, Texas Association for Bilingual Education, Texas HOPE, and Texas NAACP.

See an overview of the brief and link to the full text here: http://www.educationjustice.org/news/august-11-2015-amici-urge-texas-supreme-court-to-affirm-states-school-funding-is-unconstitutional.html

This and other amicus briefs, as well as the parties’ merits briefs filed in the case, are available on the court’s website: http://www.search.txcourts.gov/Case.aspx?cn=14-0776&coa=cossup

Online Resources to Follow the Case:

IDRA created a dashboard to collect news about the Texas school finance trial for easy access for parents, school folk & communities. You can see the latest news stories, live tweets, images, etc. http://budurl.com/IDRAsfNews

This story on Texas Public Radio, originally published at KUT.org in Austin, gives a good overview: School Finance Explained: A Look at the 30-Year Battle Over Texas Public Schools. The Center for Public Policy Priorities explained some of the key terms in this plainly written fact sheet.

Infographic on the Texas School Funding Equity, see IDRA’s updated graphic showing how some children are considered more valuable than others in Texas. http://budurl.com/IDRAigGap14

Statement: Court Rules Again: Texas School Funding Must Serve All Students Equitably, August 28, 2014 http://createsend.com/t/r-CFAF512CC306508A2540EF23F30FEDED

Flier listing the “50 Most Memorable Quotes in School Finance,” compiled by IDRA’s founder, Dr. José A. Cárdenas, in 1994. http://budurl.com/IDRA50list