Lunchbox Litigation: Law Students Not The Only Students To Suffer In Downturn Economy

Are your child’s public education fees more expensive than your law school loans?

This is the complaint (legally and figuratively) for a lot of parents these days. Turns out, with prolific budget cuts nationwide, public education has been the one of the government’s last priorities.

States have reduced education funding by a combined $17 billion over the last two fiscal years, not to mention additional cuts that are on the table for other states, including California, Texas, and Florida, according to this recent Wall Street Journal article and this WSJ Law Blog post.

Decreased state funding of public schools means secondary school students must pay higher fees for classes and excurriculars. It also leaves parents wondering whether or not the public education system is adequately preparing their children.

It seems law students are not the only students to suffer in this downturn economy.

A landmark trial is set for this month in Denver to discuss whether or not the state is failing to meet its duty of providing a quality education to all students, according to an article by The Gazette in Colorado Springs.

The lawsuit is being prosecuted by Children’s Voices, a nonprofit school advocacy law firm. Children’s Voices alleges that Colorado’s financing of public schools is not “thorough and uniform and particularly fails to meet the needs of the growing numbers of minorities, English Language Learners, those with severely disabling conditions, special needs and gifted learners and other underserved children.”

But  Colorado is not the only state where budget cuts in education have sparked litigation.

Texas school districts and their legal representatives have threatened to also file suit, alleging that recent budget cuts to schools have led to educational disparities (read more in this Houston Chronicle article).  

“All told, school-funding litigation has been brought in 45 of 50 states, according to the National Access Network, which tracks school-funding issues. The Network links to state-by-state information on the status of these various suits,” reports the WSJ  Law Blog.

Still, education finance lawsuits are hardly new. In fact, America has a long history of litigating education reform, according to Steve Smith’s article discussing “Education Adequacy Litigation: History, Trends, and Research.”

However, today’s lawsuits are landmark in the sense that their primary focus has changed. “Standards-based reform has played a critical role in shifting the central arguments of education finance litigation from equity to adequacy.”

For both issues, it turns out that “State supreme courts can have a significant impact on both the equity of school finance systems and their adequacy,” according to Douglas S. Reed in his article, “Twenty-Five Years after Rodriguez: School Finance Litigation and the Impact of the New Judicial Fedralism.”

With this in mind, does it change your perspective on the legitimate claims of law school school students suing their alma mater for inadequate schooling and lack of job opportunities?If litigation is sufficient in producing significant education reforms, should students–all students–continue to keep these institutions and states in check?

 

-WB

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One response to “Lunchbox Litigation: Law Students Not The Only Students To Suffer In Downturn Economy

  1. Pingback: Less Theory, More Practice For Law Students? NY State Bar Calls For Reform |

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