Court Humiliates Greg Abbott (Again) And Crushes his Unconstitutional Attack on Public Education

Texas school funding unconstitutional

Greg Abbott had another bad day in court on Thursday.  He has a lot of those.  In June, a Federal Court knocked him down to size in a dispute about attorney fees and courts costs in Abbott’s failed attempt to salvage gerrymandering and vote suppression.

This time, an Austin judge dealt a devastating blow to Greg Abbott’s campaign against public education.  In District court Judge John Dietz’s 404 page ruling,  he concludes that the Lone Star state’s school financing system is unconstitutional, unfair and insufficient. The Texas Taxpayer and Student Fairness Coalition et al challenged a state policy that “improperly controls local property taxation”  Moreover, “the evidence clearly establishes that local districts do not have meaningful discretion in the levy, assessment and disbursement of property taxes; therefore the Texas school financing system imposes an unconstitutional state property tax.”

Oh my goodness! This ruling blew the lid off the Republican Party’s general claim that it believes in local power. In reality, the ruling says that the state legislature’s method of financing education was the sort of top down scheme that Republicans say they oppose. It was unconstitutional because it was a state level property tax.  The court also recognized the scheme is unfair and it doesn’t provide the funds needed to finance education.

This case started because the state legislature cut $5.4 billion from public education in 2011. The result was overcrowded classrooms, closed schools and unemployed teachers.

This unconstitutional system with all its warts is the one that Greg Abbott believes in.  He was willing to go to war with 600 school districts and spend millions of taxpayers’ dollars to defend it. He is expected to spend even more tax dollars to defend it on appeal.

The fact is Greg Abbot loves this system because he can use it to starve public education out of existence.

He tried to force Judge Dietz off the case, perhaps because Dietz understood that access to education is important to reducing crime and dependence on public assistance because it means the population has the skills needed to earn a decent living.

We realize that others provided for us when we were children. We realize that children are without means to secure their education. Just as others provided for us when we were in school, now is the time when we provide for others.

While delighted that the ruling recognizes the short changing of education dollars in districts, advocates for the private, religion based charter schools are disappointed the judge the rejected their argument in the quest for more public dollars.  Judge Dietz suggested the best place for Charter Schools to seek more money is in the legislature.

The evidence was plain during trial: charter school students receive $1,000 less than district students on average each year. This disparity creates constitutional harm that Judge Dietz failed to recognize despite the use of the state’s own data to prove this point.

So says David Dunn, the executive director of the charter school organization.  However, Dunn did praise the judge for finding that school districts were underfunded.

Greg Abbot loves this system because Republicans in the state legislature can get away with draconian cuts to education without paying the political consequences.  That honor goes to the local school boards who have to decide if they should close schools or fire teachers because of the way the unconstitutional law is structured.

The economic reality of Texas’ education system was summarized in Lone Star Project Director, Matt Angle’s reaction to the ruling:

The term “deadbeat” is used to describe adults who don’t fulfill their obligation to kids. Greg Abbott’s failure to fulfill his responsibility to help provide a good public education to Texas kids makes him the state’s biggest deadbeat.

It’s been clear for a long time that real insight into Greg Abbott’s views and principles is gained only at the courthouse. Today’s decision that the Texas school financing system is unconstitutional is a clear judgment on the false priorities and values of Greg Abbott and throws a harsh light on his contempt for our public schools.

This ruling gives Texans a chance to wake up from the slumber to support Wendy Davis who, like the judge in this case, recognizes the value and need for a public and accessible education system.

Image: Wn

18 Replies to “Court Humiliates Greg Abbott (Again) And Crushes his Unconstitutional Attack on Public Education”

  1. Personally I just say no tax money to charter schools that even smell like they teach religion. Any charters that are corporate owned should be able to make their way on their own. Free market

    But Abbot is following the koch and ALEC system of doing away with public schools and making them for profit only. Its time he was gone. This cant happen to a better moron

  2. No wonder Abbott suddenly decided to avoid the only statewide debate he had previously agreed to today–he has received back-to-back rulings against him in the last two days. I can see him and his campaign team hunkering down in a secret room, strategizing on ways to downplay the impact of these rulings. I can imagine that this is the last thing Abbott wanted less than 10 weeks before the election.

  3. Many Republicans would love to see the public education system be financially gutted and instead have the private education system be government-subsidized. One reason: they regard any form of public education (k-12 or college) as part of a subversive left-wing plot to corrupt and brainwash our youth.

    Since private schools can select student admittance based on the family’s financial status and academic ability, this would create a further divide between the “haves” and “have nots” in our society. In addition, private schools would not be restricted from propagating right wing revisionist history in their social studies classes, nor proselytizing religious ideology and promoting corporate-funded anti-environmental propaganda in the science classroom.

  4. There is nothing republican, that is American. The GOP, not needed, not wanted, not relevant, a sickening stench over our country that must be cleansed in November at the voting booth.

  5. And Texas will just get worse.

    With additional births, due to restrictive abortion access, there will be tens of thousands of additional children entering the school system in 5-6 years.

    At $16K per child, 10,000 likds will add up to an additional $160 MILLION on year 5, year 6 will be an extra $320 MILLION as another 10K kids enter. Year 7 will be an addiional $480 MILLION to the budget. This will continue to compound until year 18.

    The state’s budget will increase by several BILLION by just adding 10K more kids, each and every year.

    Texas – Good luck paying your taxes, when your income levels are dropping due to RTW practices.

  6. …let the KOCHS pay for their own fun…they create pseudoChristian FrankenSchools, and demand that the STATES pay for all of it…the courts should send the bill directly to the Kochs with a note “If you fail to pay for the schools your groups created, they will be closed PERMANENTLY…

  7. Shame, shame shame!…Abbott taking your tax $ away from public schools, to fund private, Christian charter schools through the voucher program…or, circumventing the Establishment clause in the Constitution…

  8. OK trolls. Tell us why gutting/eliminating public education is good. Good for your family, town, and state. Tell us how having uneducated kids with little or no marketble job skills that will grow the Texas economy, especially in today’s competitive global marketplace.

    You’ve been yapping for the last few years. So now’s your chance. Please tell us.

  9. Yet another scandal is unfolding this weekend regarding Texas attorney general and gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott, who has been at the forefront of efforts to suppress voting in Texas during his twelve years in office. Just how far has he been willing to go? A thoroughly researched article in yesterday’s Dallas Morning News has exposed a previously unreported effort to shut down a group that was registering low-income voters in Houston.
    http://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/state-politics/20140830-abbotts-houston-raid-didnt-end-with-arrests-but-shut-down-voter-drive.ece

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