HOUSTON (FOX 26) - With a decision that's left hundreds of Texas school districts suffering beneath a crushing level of disappointment, the Texas Supreme Court has ruled the deeply-flawed system of funding public education is nonetheless "constitutional" and therefore won't be reformed by court order.
"There are more than 600 school districts as well as tens of thousands of teachers who are very depressed right now," said Mark Jones, political scientist at Rice University.
Texas ranks 38th in the country when it comes to per pupil spending. In the wake of major funding cuts six years ago, the school districts collectively filed the massive legal action contending state lawmakers were abdicating their responsibility to adequately and equally fund education.
"What they wanted was effectively more money as well as reforms in the way money was allocated between properly rich districts and property poor districts," explained Jones.
Few believed that the long standing "Robin Hood" system would survive this legal challenge, but the court, filled completely by Republicans, said it was not their job to "micro-manage the state's education policy."
"For our school districts, what they are hearing is that no one is standing up for us, no one is standing up for the hard job we are doing to make sure our kids are educated, no one seems to care," said Bob Sanborn who leads the advocacy group Children At Risk.
Sanborn believes at current funding levels Texas schools are providing only bare bones schooling with little opportunity for proven innovation, especially for the 60 percent of Texas students that are classified as low income and at higher risk of failure.
"We are a state that likes to be number one, but we are dead last when it comes to effort," said Sanborn.
But Governor Greg Abbott called the court ruling a "victory for Texas taxpayers" which ends years of "wasteful litigation."
Houston ISD released the following statement:
The Houston ISD is very disappointed in today's decision but, we remain committed to working with the Texas Legislature on a long-term fix for an outdated state school finance system. Today, the Texas Supreme Court declared the school finance system is "constitutional." The Court's ruling affirmed that the current system needs to be revamped, but the Court also said the system is meeting the "minimum requirements" of educating students. Minimum funding requirements are in direct contrast to the high standards Houston ISD and the state set for our students.