February 03, 2005
Delusions of adequacy

What does the phrase "general diffusion of knowledge" mean, and what effect does it have on school funding? The Lege wants to know, and may impose its own answer as a way of keeping those pesky court rulings at bay in the future.

A school funding bill being filed today by House Public Education Committee Chairman Kent Grusendorf, R-Arlington, will include a "placeholder" for the definition, which likely will be written by the committee members.

The effort to define a constitutional protection worries lawyers for school districts who won the landmark ruling from Dietz. They fear that lawmakers, in an effort to avoid major new taxes, want to establish lower standards than those envisioned by Dietz.

"This is a sign of desperation to avoid the ruling. Rather than pass a new finance bill, now they're attempting to amend the scope of an adequate education," said George Bramblett, who represents a coalition of school districts, including Houston, that won the ruling last year.

Harrison Keller, research director for Speaker Tom Craddick, said representatives may correlate the definition to the state's accountability system, which rates schools based on student test scores.

"The Legislature has the right and responsibility to define a 'general diffusion of knowledge.' The floor of the Legislature is where people need to have those debates," Keller said.

I have no idea what this means, but I'm a bit leery of it. It feels like a copout to me. Any lawyer types want to comment on this?

Meanwhile, the Lege has proposed three billion dollars in new school spending. How they will fund this, especially with the proposed 50-cent cut in property taxes, they haven't said yet - that will be included in a bill to be named later. Have I mentioned lately that the much-ballyhooed "surplus" was a mirage?

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 03, 2005 to That's our Lege | TrackBack