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School Finance Lawsuit: Three Things to Know

August 27, 2015

By Denise Pierce, TCSA General Counsel

1. It’s historic

This is the first time in the history of the Texas charter school movement that the case for fair funding will be made before the Supreme Court of Texas.
The public charter school movement joined the school finance lawsuit in 2012 and went to trial in 2013 and again in 2014. All the testimony and evidence pointed to the indisputable conclusion that the state has failed to meet its constitutional duty to all public school students, especially public charter school students.

After decades of being shortchanged by the state, public charter schools say, "Enough."

    Watch Live: Online streaming

    When: 9 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 1

    Where: Supreme Court of Texas, 200 W. 14th Street, Austin TX

    What: Oral arguments in Michael Williams, Commissioner of Education, et al. v. Texas Taxpayer & Student Fairness Coalition, et al.; Calhoun County ISD, et al.; Edgewood ISD, et al.; Fort Bend ISD, et al.; Texas Charter School Association, et al.; and Joyce Coleman, et al.

    How: Charter school plaintiffs will have 10 minutes for the opening and five minutes for a rebuttal.

2. It’s about fairness

Public charter school students and families deserve fair funding.

Denise Quote

Right now, each and every family that decides a public charter school is the best fit for their student is shortchanged about $1,000. That money would be there if they stayed at their traditional district school. Charters have to meet the same academic and financial standards as traditional districts and face the added threat of closure should they chronically underperform. For the nearly 230,000 public charter school students in Texas, $1,000 less per student is clear evidence that we deserve intervention by the Supreme Court of Texas.

3. It’s a team effort

The charter movement made it to this historic moment by working together for the students and families who rely on charter schools and the 105,000 students waiting for an open seat at a public charter school.

Thanks to:

  • The six parent plaintiffs: Mario Flores, Wayside Schools; Christopher Baerga, New Frontiers Charter School; Jason and Sarah Christensen, Harmony Public Schools; Dana Allen, Lumin Education; and Brooks Flemister, Ser Ninos Charter School.
  • The TCSA Board of Directors, including TCSA Executive Director David Dunn.
  • The TCSA member schools who financially supported this effort by stretching their already meager budgets.
  • The Walton Family Foundation and the Broad Foundation, which provided grants to continue this fight at the Texas Supreme Court.
  • The trial team: Robert Schulman and Leonard Schwartz.
  • The appellate counsel: Jim Ho and William Thompson.

As we stand together on Sept. 1, 2015, victory is certainly not guaranteed, but none of the plaintiffs in the case deserve it more than the charter school students and their families. The Texas Supreme Court needs to uphold the trial court’s August decision that the state does not give adequate funding to students, and declare that charter school students are entitled to equitable funding and facilities funding.

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