Catch 22: “A situation in which a desired outcome … is impossible to attain because of a set of inherently illogical … conditions.” Amer. Heritage Dictionary. Plaintiffs sought to remedy inherent disparities in an educational system uniformly inequitable: the wealthiest district can raise $219,000 per pupil and the poorest only $1,100. However, the standard is “thorough and uniform.” The Court held this means complete, comprehensive, and consistent, not equal. Also, the Constitution requires Local Control, so districts must control locally-raised education funds without the state mandating how such funds are used. The system is constitutional because it meets these standards. The dissents disagreed, finding the system’s disparities are not rationally related to the standards; they would also require the legislature to equitably fund its educational mandates.
For a link to all of the briefs filed in this case, click HERE.
(The CLR does not endorse or reject the views of “Children’s Voices” whose website is linked here).
Note: justiciable means the ability of a court to issue an opinion on the substantive questions presented.
Holding: “We conclude that as political subdivisions, the school districts lack standing, and that the parents’ challenge to the adequacy of school financing is a nonjusticiable political question.”
Holding: “We reverse the court of appeals’ holdings that the plaintiff school districts lack standing to sue the state and that the plaintiffs have alleged a nonjusticiable claim.”
Holding: “The Court concludes that the Colorado public school finance system is not rationally related to the mandate to establish and maintain a thorough and uniform system of free public schools. On the contrary, the public school finance system is irrational, arbitrary, and severely underfunded. This results in the denial of the rights of the Individuals Plaintiffs guaranteed by Article IX, section 2 of the Colorado constitution and the rights and powers of the School Districts pursuant to Article IX, sections 2 and 15.”