Report: ‘Equity’ Lawsuits Don’t Work

Written by John DeSio on . Posted in Education, Posts.

A report released today makes the argument that financial equity education lawsuits, like that which was brought by the Campaign for Fiscal Equity a few years back, argues that while such lawsuits might provide short-term school funding boosts it usually only means long-term tax increases.

"Lawsuits may be able to
build schools, but they haven’t proven effective at teaching kids," said
study author Chris Atkins. "Higher tax rates appear to be the only
enduring result of these school finance lawsuits. This research questions the
conventional wisdom that you can sue your way to a better school."

The study, titled "Appropriation by
Litigation: Estimating the Cost

of Judicial Mandates for State and Local Education
Spending," also finds that in many instances states that have seen such lawsuits pass are spending less on education than they were prior, if you take into account what natural inflation rates would have wrought. Taxes, however, still rise to pay for the mandate, states the study.

"These findings show
that while judges certainly hold power," said Atkins, "the
legislature will always retain the ‘power of the purse.’ Short- term funding
gains realized by schools in the wake of judicial rulings have not produced, on
the whole, higher school funding in the long haul. It appears that calling your
legislator is still the best way to get more money to schools."

Find the report here.