Last Week in Lobato Trial – will courts decree new school taxes?
billions of dollars of additional funding for schools, though it’s unclear where that extra money would come from. (Denver Post, “Colorado school funding trial enters likely final week“)
This educational-funding lawsuit (seeking to force even higher state educational spending by court order) represents yet another abuse of the courts for the pursuit of political ends – unfortunately aided and abetted by an all-too-complicit (and highly political) majority on the Colorado Supreme Court, which previously (October 2009) overturned two lower courts which had (correctly) dismissed the case (Lobato v. Colorado) as non-justiciable (meaning, a policy issue not to be decided by the courts).
Despite the lack of correlation between spending and performance – and despite the failure of court-imposed school funding increases in several states (including Colorado neighbors Kansas and Wyoming) to achieve increased school performance, despite revenue and spending increases –
In Colorado, where per-pupil spending was $8,782 in 2008-09, students often outperformed students in Wyoming, where funding – following a school finance lawsuit – was $14,268 per pupil.
plaintiffs continue to seek additional money that the state simply does not have. A court ruling in favor of the plaintiffs could not only precipitate a constitutional crisis, but lead to a fiscal and budgetary train wreck of epic proportions. Indeed, as Governor Hickenlooper correctly points out, the consequences for Colorado would be “devastating.”
If the courts are able to decide “the future of public education” by judicial fiat, Colorado citizens will have lost all control and accountability over our schools.
The issue of educational funding is NOT one for the courts, but rather for the legislature and/or local school boards. The Lobato lawsuit is a fiscal, legal, and political disaster in the making.
Read more about the Lobato school funding case in these recent articles:
- “Lobato case primer” (Education News Colorado, 11 August 2011)
- “Lobato lawsuit unfounded” (Denver Post, 11 August 2011)
- “In Lobato, might high court issue a ruling it can’t enforce?” (Colorado News Agency, 11 August 2011)
These cases highlight the importance of fair and impartial courts and of judges who exercise proper restraint (in accordance with the rule of law) in considering – let alone deciding – issues of policy more appropriate for the elected, representative branches of government. Our courts have an important – even vital – role to play in our society and system of government. This is not it.
Clear The Bench Colorado will, with your support, continue to promote transparency and accountability in the Colorado judiciary, informing the public to increase awareness of the substantial public policy implications of an unrestrained activism and political agendas in the courts. We will continue to work to educate voters and provide information of relevance related to the judicial branch, and to provide useful and substantive evaluations of judicial performance.
Ultimately, though – it’s worth the effort.