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David-and-Goliath Lawsuit against State of Florida over K-12 Education System

Justice scalesHundreds of thousands of Florida’s children can’t adequately read or do math.  Florida is the nation’s 4th wealthiest state, yet it's the 6th lowest of the 50 states in per-pupil funding and 8th lowest in graduation rates

Back in 2009, pissed-off citizens and taxpayers filed a lawsuit against the State of Florida for (basically) messing up the K-12 public-school system.

After years of the State’s delays, the case went to trial this week in the  Second Circuit Court in Tallahassee.

The case is Citizens for Strong Schools v. State Board of Education, and it could be a game changer.  Plaintiffs are represented by the Southern Legal Counsel, a public-interest firm in Gainesville, Florida.

There are over 5,000 exhibits in evidence, and Judge George Reynolds, III allowed 5 weeks for the trial.

The Plaintiffs' basic argument: the State violated the Florida Constitution by failing to provide a high-quality education system.  Article IX of the Florida Constitution states:

The education of children is a fundamental value of the people of the State of Florida. It is, therefore, a paramount duty of the state to make adequate provision for the education of all children residing within its borders. Adequate provision shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education . . . .

For years, Florida parents, teachers, and school boards have protested, but the State continued over-burdening and under-funding schools.

All states' education systems affect even people who don't have kids: lesser education is tied to higher crime rates and higher taxpayer spending on prison systems (career criminals tend to be less educated, except the white-collar types). 

The case is getting national attention because its outcome could influence how courts in other states handle similar cases.

Education expert Diane Ravitch and the League of Women Voters have information on the case.   Also, you can see videos of the trial on the Florida Channel.


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