Lobato Trial Updates Archive

State Supreme Court overturns Lobato decision

The State Supreme Court issued a 4-2 decision on May 28 putting an end to the Lobato school funding case. It’s a profoundly sad day for Colorado children. If you disagree with the decision, let us know you’ll stand strong for kids.

Watch the Supreme Court arguments

Trial decision the best news for 
Colorado kids in a quarter century

In a landmark decision vindicating the rights of Colorado’s public school students, Judge Sheila Rappaport issued a ruling on December 9, 2011 in favor the plaintiff school districts, parents and students in the Lobato case. After the most thorough investigation of public education in Colorado to date, the Court found that “[Colorado’s] public school finance system is irrational, arbitrary, and severely underfunded” and that Colorado is not complying with the Constitutional right of every child to a “thorough and uniform system of free public schools.” Unfortunately, the State has decided to appeal the decision to the Colorado Supreme Court. Read the Judge’s Ruling and key findings from the decision.

About the Case

Reactions following the landmark ruling

Week Five: August 29-September 2

Lobato v. state plaintiffs closing arguments
View more presentations from Great Education Colorado

FROM THE GREAT EDUCATION COLORADO BLOG (from all five weeks)

FROM THE LOBATO CASE WEBSITE

HIGHLIGHTED PRESS COVERAGE
9 News

Durango Herald

  • School Finances in Judge’s Hands — “We’re asking for the resources to help our children meet the very standards (legislators) have put in place,” [Plaintiff-Intervenor MALDEF Attorney David] Hinojosa said. . . .

KVNF Public Radio Paonia/Montrose

Education News Colorado

  • September 2 — A Long Chapter Closes — “Five weeks of testimony and uncounted documents got summed up in less than three hours of lawyers’ speeches Friday as the Lobato v. State trial wound up. . . “
  • September 1 — One Last Speed Bump — “Colorado’s education commissioner and a top higher education official tried to minimize the cost of education reform during defense testimony in the Lobato school-funding trial Thursday. . .”
  • August 30 — Schaffer Sticks to his Guns — “[State Board of Education Chair Bob Schaffer] said that ‘I believe they (school districts) have sufficient funding to accomplish state requirements’ and that CSAP scores are not an indicator of whether student needs are being met.” State witness Mike Miles (Superintendent of the Harrison School District testified. “Asked if Harrison has reached a juncture where financial resources matter, Miles said, ‘I think we’re at that point. … If we have significantly reduced resources, we’re going to have a hard time meeting our goals” for improved student achievement.'”
  • August 29 — Can’t Fire Your Way to Finland — “Linda Darling-Hammond, a Stanford University professor who testified earlier for the plaintiffs, returned to the stand Monday to rebut defense testimony by Eric Hanushek of the Hoover Institution, which is affiliated with Stanford.”

Week Four: August 22-26

FROM THE GREAT EDUCATION COLORADO BLOG

FROM THE LOBATO CASE WEBSITE

  • Summary of Testimony, Day 20 — August 26 Testimony from witnesses for the Defense: Nina Lopez of the Legacy Foundation and former employee of the Colorado Department of Education on implementation of Senate Bill 191 (teacher effectiveness); and former Colorado Commissioner of Education, William Moloney.
  • Summary of Testimony, Day 19 — August 25 Testimony from Defense Witnesses Krisitn Waters, Principal of South High School, former Principal of Bruce Randolph; Eric Hanushek, expert witness from Hoover Institution.
  • Summary of Testimony, Day 18 — August 24 Testimony from Defense Witnesses Lieutenant Governor and Executive Director of CCHE, Joe Garcia; CDE Employees Rich Wenning (former) and Jo O’Brian.
  • Summary of Testimony, Day 17 — August 23 Testimony from MALDEF Plaintiff Intervenor witnesses Mary Wickersham, chair of the Build Excellent Schools Today (BEST) board and Charlotte Ciancio, Superintendent of Mapleton Schools.
  • Summary of Testimony, Day 16 — August 22 Testimony from MALDEF Plaintiff Intervenor witnesses Greeley/Evans District Administrators Wayne Eads (current) and Dana Selzer (retired) discussing the district’s ability to meet the educational needs of at-risk, GT, and English-Language learning students; and Steve Murdock, a national expert on demographic trends.;

HIGHLIGHTED PRESS COVERAGE
Denver Post

Pueblo Chieftain

Education News Colorado

  • August 26 — Moloney Opines — “Now affiliated with a conservative think tank at Colorado Christian University, Moloney is known for his views on class size (bigger is better and cheaper), standard teacher salary schedules (a very bad thing) and models for reforming public schools (make them more like parochial and charter schools).”
  • August 25 — Money and Scores — Reviews the testmony of Eric Hanushek, called by the state as a defense witness. Hanushek contended that teaching experience (past the first couple of years) and class size (after Kindergrten) do not have an impact on achievement.
  • August 24 — Garcia on the Grill — The State’s case began with Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia. “Personally I would like to see more resources available for all levels of education,” Garcia said, stressing the need to “couple those resources with the right policies.” Asked if he’s sympathetic to the plaintiffs’ concerns, Garcia said, “I am.”
  • August 23 — Trial Tone Set to Shift — Covers the final day of Plaintiff testimony, including Mapleton Superintendent Charlotte Ciancio: “She said that with appropriate resources ‘I know … that all of them (at-risk) students would reach proficiency’ but that ‘there’s just not enough to go around. . . . I’m proud of the fact that we are able to do so much with so little.’”

Week Three: August 15-19

FROM THE GREAT EDUCATION COLORADO BLOG

FROM THE LOBATO CASE WEBSITE

HIGHLIGHTED PRESS COVERAGE
Denver Post

Education News Colorado

  • August 19 — A High Profile Witness — A detailed review of the testimony of Linda Darling-Hammond, a national expert on the resources necessary to attract, train and retain high quality teachers.
  • August 18 — Sheridan’s Story — “Sheridan on Thursday joined the long list of school districts whose leaders have voluntarily confessed their failings during testimony at the Lobato school funding trial.”
  • August 17 — The Costs of Dropping Out — “The costs of low educational achievement and the mixed history of legislative school funding efforts were the focus of the Lobato trial Wednesday.”
  • August 16 — Preschool Report Card — Early Childhood Education expert Henry Levin: “The primary reason for having low preschool teacher qualifications requirements in Colorado is that this is all that is feasible given the low level of funding.” Photos and videos of conditions in Colorado schools were also featured in the day’s testimony.
  • August 15 — Budget Cuts a Tradeoff — DPS CFO David Hart walked the Court through the impact of cuts; Senator Rollie Heath testified about legislative enactments (“What we basically asked was, ‘Reform the system’ without giving you (districts) any resources.”); Commerce City resident Lillian Leroux testified about the education of her foster children; and Adams 14 Superintendent Susan Chandler assessed the sufficiency of school resources on the road to achieving standards.

Week two: August 8-12

FROM THE GREAT EDUCATION COLORADO BLOG

FROM THE LOBATO CASE WEBSITE

HIGHLIGHTED PRESS COVERAGE

Education News Colorado

  • August 10 — Teachers have a Say — “Fourth-grade teacher Matt Keefauver and science teacher Justine Bayles each choked up a bit as they described the financial challenges facing the Montezuma-Cortez schools and the academic challenges facing their students. . . .”
  • August 9 — John Barry is Frustrated — Aurora Superintendent (and Two-Star General) John Barry testified: “We’re losing kids because we can’t replicate [reforms]. We’re making progress, but we’re not making it fast enough to be thorough and uniform.”
  • August 8 — Digging into Cost Details — School Finance Expert Justin Silverstein of Augenblick, Palaich & Associates waled the court through APA’s study “projecting the funding Colorado school districts would need to support the demands of state requirements such as new content standards, tests and teacher evaluation systems.” Also testifying, Bethune Superintendent/Principal Shila Adolf and Kit Carson Superintendent Gerald O’Keefe, about the challenges of meeting standards in rural districts.

Durango Herald

Week one: August 1-5

FROM THE GREAT EDUCATION COLORADO BLOG

  • Lobato Launched — videos and coverage of the July 31 press conference at the Capitol, including the unveiling of the “human graph” illustrating Colorado falling behind in per pupil funding.
  • The Judge will Judge. The Legislators will Legislate — a blog post discussing the role of the Court and addressing misconceptions about what a victory in Lobato would mean.
  • Taylor Lobato Gets Her Day in Court — featuring 9News coverage of named plaintiff, Taylor Lobato’s testimony on the stand.

FROM THE LOBATO CASE WEBSITE

  • Columns from Center Superintendent George Welsh, who summarizes his impressions from the first three days of the trial, and from CASE Executive Director Bruce Caughey.
  • The press release from the July 31 press conference

HIGHLIGHTED PRESS COVERAGE

Education News Colorado

  • August 5 — Key Expert Weighs In — national school finance expert Bruce Baker testifies that Colorado’s school finance system does not provide adequate resources to meet the needs of special needs and at-risk students.
  • August 2 — A History Lesson — witnesses included DU Professor Tom Romero, former Superintendent and CASE Executive Director John Hefty, Littleton Superintendent Scott Murphy and Colorado Springs District 11’s Chief Financial Officer Glenn Gustafson.
  • August 1 — Center in the Spotlight — Superintendent George Welsh of Center (in the San Luis Valley) set the stage in the opening day, testifying about the challenges of meeting state mandates and providing a quality education under the current finance system.
  • All Sides Hustle to Tell Lobato Stories — highlighting three press conferences: Thursday’s press briefing with the Attorney General and the Governor; Friday’s with MALDEF Attorney David Hinajosa; and Sunday’s press conference with plaintiffs. Videos can be seen here.
  • Curtain Rises on Historic Lobato Case — a thorough and balanced background piece providing an overview of the issues and parties.

Denver Post

AMONG TOPICS COVERED

  • History and structure of the current School Finance Act;
  • History and meaning of the constitutional “Education Clause”;
  • Mandates and requirements with which school districts must comply;
  • Progress and obstacles to meeting mandates and requirements for districts of all sizes, demographics and geography;
  • Differences in educational opportunities across the state (e.g., technology, AP classes and other critical coursework, availability of highly-qualified teachers, etc.);
  • National perspective on Colorado’s investment in education, including how it relates to changing standards and demographics.

WITNESS LIST

August 1 — Setting the stage. Center Superintendent George Welsh; Former Superintendent and Former Executive Director of the Colorado Association of School Executives (CASE), John Hefty.

August 2 – John Hefty (cont.); Littleton Superintendent Scott Murphy; Colorado Springs District 11 CFO, Glenn Gufstason; DU Professor Tom Romero.

August 3 – Former Cherry Creek Superintendent (and 2005 National Superintendent of the Year), Monte Moses; school finance expert Ed Steinbrecher; Cherry Creek Assistant Superintendent for Performance Improvement, Elliott Asp; plaintiff Taylor Lobato; Center resident Miguel Cendejas;. Sanford Superintendent Kevin Edgar

August 4 -Former Colorado Springs D-11 Superintendent Michael Poore; Jeffco Superintendent Cindy Stevenson; Carol Evans of the Jeffco Department of Instructional Data.

August 5 – Littleton Public Schools Chief Information Officer, Dan Maas; National school funding expert Bruce Baker.