Today, as expected, Attorney General John Suthers filed the state’s notice of appeal of the decision in the Lobato case. In that decision, the trial judge ruled that Colorado is not complying with the Constitutional right of every child to a “thorough and uniform system of free public schools.”
Last month Great Education Colorado and Colorado PTA submitted a letter with over 1,900 signatures from over 180 communities to state officials, calling on them to enforce rather than appeal Lobato.
Great Ed’s statement in response to today’s appeal is below. Comments from the plaintiffs’ attorneys follow.
January 23, 2012
Great Education Colorado Statement on State’s Appeal in Lobato
Now that the appeal is filed, we hope and trust that the parties will expedite the process as much as possible. Colorado’s students don’t get do-overs. For them, justice delayed is education denied.
This appeal comes just as the Colorado Department of Education released its estimate of cuts that each district can expect under current budget proposals. Funding for schools is currently slated at $327 million below what it would take to maintain current services and $1.1 billion below what schools would be receiving if the state were still honoring Amendment 23. Put another way, although CDE expects 8,990 more students in Colorado schools next year, funding will be $48 million lower.
The State’s appeal presents one more delay on the way to a school funding system that provides the resources necessary to meet the State’s own vision: that “[a]ll students in Colorado will become educated and productive citizens capable of succeeding in a globally competitive workforce.”
In light of the Lobato decision and the damage that a fourth year of deep education cuts will do to Colorado’s students, to our constitution, and to jobs and our economic recovery, the legislature should waste no time in working to honor our students’ right to a thorough and uniform education system.
Appeal to delay resolution of Colorado’s school funding problems
DENVER — The state’s formal notice of appeal in Lobato v. State of Colorado is an anticipated but unfortunate step in the prolonged lawsuit to fix Colorado’s broken public school finance system, plaintiff’s attorneys and supporters said today.
“The judge’s decision in December was firm and resounding,” said Kathy Gebhardt, one of the lead attorneys on behalf of Lobato. “The state is failing to meet constitutional requirements that it maintain a thorough and uniform school system. The evidence from the trial was overwhelming. The judge found the system to be irrational, arbitrary and underfunded. It’s unfortunate the state will further delay a constitutionally required education for the children of Colorado, but we will defend the district court decision and, for the sake of the state’s students, hope that we can move forward with all deliberate speed.” Bringing the case to trial was a six-year process, she noted.
“It is clear that the state has no basis on which to defend the current school, finance system,” she added. “All of the state’s bases for appeal are technical arguments that do not speak to whether students are getting a constitutionally adequate education. In addition, the state’s appeal does not seek guidance on how to solve the revenue implications of the district court’s decision, which was its stated justification for the costly and time consuming appeal.” . . .