Reimagining Education

Adequacy Trial Ruling Ushers in New Era of Responsibility for Missouri School Districts

The Missouri Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision that Missouri meets the requirements of the state constitution for adequate funding of its schools. The ruling sends a loud message to school districts in the state, and across the country, to rethink their funding and resources. In ruling against the suing school districts the Missouri Supreme Court stated that the districts:

“…are attempting to read a separate funding requirement that would require the legislature to provide ‘adequate’ education funding in excess of the 25-percent requirement contained in section 3(b). Such language does not exist.”

The lower court decision upholding the funding formula was handed down in August 2007 by Cole County Circuit Court Judge Richard Callahan and was appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court. Those arguments began in Missouri Supreme Court in May of this year.

The ruling is a win for taxpayers who will not have to throw endless amounts of money at school districts with no accountability for results. Countless studies have been done to show that increased funding does not equal higher student achievement. For school districts, the ruling means that they can no longer use the excuse of what they deem “inadequate funding” to explain poor results.

Also, the Supreme Court has set an important precedent in that it did not usurp the legislature’s authority to set spending policy on education. This will make it less likely that the school districts will try to take the state to court over the new school funding formula which is in its fourth year of a seven year phase in. Supporters of the new formula say it sends billions more to local school districts and is geared more toward student achievement for increased funding.

After $6 million spent by the state and local districts in this trial we should all hope that the lessons were learned and that school districts realize that it is time for a new era in how they operate; that can be the only benefit to this trial. Missouri spends about $7000 per student in education. The amount spent on this trial could have gone to over 850 students. School funding must move toward student achievement and innovation. This is how we will make Missouri, and the United States, competitive again when it comes to education.

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