For over eight years, with your help, we have been telling the Colorado State Legislature that funding for our schools is insufficient.
Even before the cuts of the past three years, public school supporters like you made their voices heard at press conferences and legislative hearings, and through petitions, letters and phone calls to legislators, telling them that our schools simply don’t have the resources necessary to provide the quality education that every child needs to succeed in the 21st century.
Today, we wanted you to know that another important voice soon might be added to that chorus: the state courts.
Here’s why. On August 1, the trial in the case of Lobato v. State of Colorado will begin. The plaintiffs in that case — numerous school districts and parents from throughout Colorado — will prove that Colorado’s school finance system fails to meet the standard in our state constitution: “a thorough and uniform system of free public schools.”
What does thorough and uniform mean? As the court put it, it’s been largely defined by the legislature’s “comprehensive system of educational goals, methods, and measures, all of which it requires school districts to implement successfully.”
What are the plaintiffs asking for? A declaration by the court that the current school finance system is completely unconnected from the mandates the legislature has created (e.g., CSAPs, accountability systems, mandated outcomes, etc.), and is therefore not “thorough” or “uniform” as required by the constitution. The court would give the legislature an “appropriate period of time” to bring the state in compliance with the constitution.
That’s when the court would add its voice, telling the legislature to make the school finance system constitutional.
And that’s when the voice of public school supporters from around the state will be more important than ever, ensuring that legislators do their job of providing a constitutional school finance system that serves every child.
We wanted to let you know about this important case, and to provide you with ways you can stay informed about and support this critical effort:
1) Click here to read weekly updates and breaking news about the trial.
2) Click here if you would like to attend the kick-off press conference on Sunday, July 31 at 10:45 on the West Steps of the Capitol. (Please RSVP, as it will help with the unique plans for this event); and
3) Follow (and comment on) the trial on Twitter at #lobatocase.
Colorado has made great progress in setting higher standards for schools, teachers and students, and mandating improvements in individual learning for children who learn differently, in different languages, and with special needs and talents.
Matching resources with those mandates isn’t just a good idea. It’s the law.
Thank you for taking the time to learn about the Lobato case and for all you do for Colorado’s kids, schools, colleges and universities.
Policy Director Great Education Colorado