MALDEF Decries Greater Inequalities to Come

Ruling Abandons Low-wealth Districts and Upholds Glaring Inequities in the System

PRESS RELEASE

(AUSTIN, TEXAS) More than 16 years after declaring the school finance
system unconstitutional in Edgewood I, the Supreme Court of Texas
refused to remedy persistent inequalities in the present school funding
system. As a result, millions of school children in property-poor school districts
across the state face the prospect of even greater inequities in a new system that will not contain a property
tax cap.

MALDEF represented the Edgewood Districts∗, a group of 22
property-poor school districts, many of which filed the original
landmark school finance suit in 1984. With a trial record consisting of 655
findings of fact and 24 conclusions of law based on over 7,000 exhibits and testimony from dozens of
witnesses, the Supreme Court refused to address the issues and, instead, deferred to the Legislature’s
discretion. Although the Supreme Court found that the State violated the Texas Constitution by forcing
districts to tax at the maximum rate, the Court failed to address the gross inequities in the system. “MALDEF is very disappointed with the Supreme Court’s ruling,”
said MALDEF President and General Counsel Ann Marie Tallman. “This case
is not about money but rather about lost educational opportunities for
the 2 million-plus students attending
schools in property-poor districts. Unfortunately, the
Court’s decision ill-serves the interests of those children and the future of all Texas residents.”

David Hinojosa, MALDEF Staff Attorney and lead counsel in the
case, added: “Fifty years after Brown v. Board, our undisputed evidence
at trial showed that the quality of education for certain Texas
children still suffers as a direct result of which side of the tracks
they live on. Despite the glaring disparities between the haves and
havenots, the Court refused to confront the issues head on.

He continued: “The saving grace for our districts was that the Supreme Court did not state that the
recapture system needed to be eliminated. With that in mind, there is every reason for the Legislature to
address the inequities in the system when creating its new school finance plan.”

"While the Supreme Court ruled that the financing system is constitutionally efficient, no one should
believe we have a quality school system that can support the economic future of Texas. MALDEF looks
forward to working with the Legislature to provide a funding system that is fair and equitable for all Texas
children," commented Luis Figueroa, MALDEF Legislative Staff Attorney.

A national nonprofit organization found in 1968, MALDEF promotes and
protects the rights of Latinos through advocacy, community education
and outreach, leadership development, higher education scholarships and
when necessary, through the legal system.

∗ The Edgewood District consist of the following Independent School Districts: Edgewood, Brownsville,
Edcouch-Elsa, Harlandale, Harlingen, Jim Hogg County, Kenedy, Laredo, La Feria, La Vega, Los Fresnos,
Monte Alto, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo, Raymondville, Roma, San Benito, San Elizario, Socorro, Sharyland,
South San Antonio, United, and Ysleta.

Note: received via email at noon Nov. 22, corrected version received about 2pm.

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