Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Suit over education funding heads to the state Supreme Court

TALLAHASSEE — A dispute over whether public education meets constitutional standards in Florida was bumped up to the state Supreme Court on Wednesday by a sharply divided group of appellate judges.

In a 8-7 ruling, the 1st District Court of Appeal did not decide questions about whether lawmakers spend enough money on students and teachers or if state statutes promote a quality education.

The court instead sent the case to the Supreme Court, a setback for House Speaker Dean Cannon, Senate President Mike Haridopolos and other defendants who argued that education policy is a "political" issue specifically for the Legislature to decide.

"The defendants are here seeking to derail proceedings in the trial court before they can conclude here," Chief Judge Robert T. Benton II wrote for the majority.

Benton acknowledged that plaintiffs, including Pasco and Duval county students and teachers, could ultimately lose their case. But he wrote that it was an issue "of great public importance."

Judge L. Clayton Roberts wrote in a sharply worded dissent that the complaint from the plaintiffs was a "prayer for relief."

"Whether the Legislature has created a system that meets the requirements expected by our citizens will have to be judged by the citizens themselves," Roberts wrote.

In 1996, the Supreme Court dismissed a similar complaint, ruling lawmakers had "enormous discretion" to interpret a constitutional requirement for an adequate and uniform system of public schools.

But the Constitution was expanded two years later, when voters added that education must also be "efficient, safe, secure and high quality."

Florida ranked 41st among the 50 states in total funding per student, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and last in money spent on schools per $1,000 of personal income. The state's graduation rate and average SAT score both rank among the worst in the country.

Meanwhile, Florida's education system was ranked No. 5 in the country this year by Education Week, up from No. 8 last year and No. 11 the year before.

Michael C. Bender can be reached at mbender@tampabay.com.

Suit over education funding heads to the state Supreme Court 11/23/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 23, 2011 9:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Observations from a liberal, gay, Latino, feminist Florida House freshman

    Blogs

    State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando,  rocked the Florida LGBTA Democratic Caucus dinner at Tallahassee's Hotel Duval Satursday night with his unabashedly liberal and passionate take on the myriad issues he said are key to LGBTQ Floridians. Among them: Access to guns, Reproductive rights, home …

    Carlos G. Smith
  2. Delta Sigma Theta honors outgoing national president

    Human Interest

    During her four years as national president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Paulette Walker said she always focused on the comma between "Sorority" and "Inc."

    Paulette Walker, the former director of undergraduate programs and internship in the College of Education at the University of South Florida, will be honored on Saturday for her leadership in the Delta Sigma Theta sorority.
  3. 10 sailors missing, 5 hurt in collision of USS John S. McCain

    SEOUL —Ten U.S. Navy sailors are missing and five have been injured after the USS John S. McCain destroyer collided with an oil tanker near Singapore early Monday morning.

    In this Jan. 22, 2017, photo provided by U.S. Navy, the USS John S. McCain patrols in the South China Sea while supporting security efforts in the region. The guided-missile destroyer collided with a merchant ship on Monday, Aug. 21, in waters east of Singapore and the Straits of Malacca. Ten sailors were missing, and five were injured, the Navy said. [James Vazquez/U.S. Navy via AP]
  4. Pasco County Fire Rescue fighting a two-alarm fire started by an explosion

    Fire

    Two houses are on fire and one victim has been critically burned and taken to a trauma center following an explosion at a home at 8652 Velvet Dr, in Port Richey.

  5. Rays see the Blake Snell they've been waiting for in win over Mariners

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was a one-run game Sunday when the Mariners' Robinson Cano singled with one out in the seventh inning, bringing the dangerous Nelson Cruz to the plate.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) throwing in the third inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.