Suit looming against California over school funding

Top California school leaders said they soon will sue the state over chronically underfunded schools, reports the San Jose Mercury News — a move that in other states has infused billions of dollars into school systems. California spends $35.7 billion, or about 30 percent of its budget, on its 1,000 public K-12 schools. Like other state programs, education has suffered waves of recent cuts as state revenues have shrunk. In per-pupil spending, California ranks anywhere from 30th to 47th among states, depending on how cost of living is adjusted. Given its low ranking in spending, as well as recent cuts, "nobody can rationally assert that the system is adequately supported," said Scott Plotkin, executive director of the California School Boards Association, which he said will file suit by the end of the year. Don Iglesias, superintendent of San Jose Unified School District, noted that California has trailed national per-pupil spending since 1979, and now the gap is $1,700 per student. The problem is bigger than the current economic crisis, he said: Without litigation, the state won’t properly fund its schools. In suing to challenge the adequacy of school funding, California school advocates are late to the game. Since 1979, cases have been brought in about 30 other states. But while 14 resulted in court-ordered funding increases, cases decided in the past four years have tended to favor the states, according to Eric Hanushek, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University…

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