Suit: State is failing schools, violating Constitution
Not enough money. Not enough progress. Florida is violating the state Constitution by not pouring enough money into schools and relentlessly focusing on high-stakes testing policies that aren't getting good results, says a lawsuit expected to be filed today in Leon County Circuit Court.
Prepared by a team of lawyers that includes a former Democratic House speaker and a Republican Party patriarch, the suit takes aim at virtually every aspect of the sweeping education overhaul engineered by former Gov. Jeb Bush and kept largely intact by his successor, Gov. Charlie Crist.
Low graduation rates, stagnant test scores, a persistent effort by lawmakers to shift education costs to school districts — all of it shows Florida is not living up to a constitutional mandate to provide high-quality schools, the suit says.
Some of the suit's roots go back to last spring's budget cuts, when everything from music programs to teaching assistants were considered for the chopping block, said Kathleen Oropeza, co-founder of an Orlando-based parents group listed as a plaintiff.
"The first question we asked amongst ourselves was, 'What can we do to fix this?' " Oropeza said Tuesday. "It always came back to legal action."