Monday, February 21, 2005

From Alaska to Florida... a court roundup

The courts are back in the news about education. In four parts:

(1) Right here in Texas, the state Supreme Court has decided to hear the appeal of the case that ruled the state's education system to be unconstitutional. I've long thought that the all Republican Supreme Court would quickly overturn the lower court's decision. But District Judge John Dietz was so meticulous in his 200 page Findings of Fact that they'll have their work cut out for them if they intend to show that the system is indeed adequate and equitable. (It's neither.)

(2) A similar case will be heard next month in Alaska. On first glance, though, I think this one will lose. The Alaska Constitution has no specifics about its education system. In Texas, the constitution says that the state must provide for "a general diffusion of knowledge" and an "efficient" system. No such stipulations in Alaska.

(3) The Massachusetts Supreme Court, apparently cowed by the backlash to its uber-controversial ruling in favor of gay marriage last fall, ruled that it could not get involved in school funding, instead leaving the matter to the state Leg.

(4) And finally, in Florida, the Supremes will have to rule if the state's controversial (and small -- only 700 students) voucher program violates the state's constitutional ban of public funding of religious institutions of any kind. Of course, the Supreme Court upheld vouchers for church schools in Ohio, but this is different as it deals with the state constitution in a state Republicans (w/ Gov. Jeb at the helm) would like to use as a proving ground for vouchers. I think the vouchers will lose. The language in the constitution is pretty clear.

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