K-12 advocates sue California for failing to fund education

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A coalition of K-12 organizations sued the state of California today for not spending enough on public schools.

The state is getting sued by a number of groups that are closely involved with K-12 schools: the California School Boards Association, the California PTA, the Association of California School Administrators, school districts and students.

Attorney Deborah Caplan says they want the courts to strike down California’s funding system for schools.

“Its system for financing education is completely disconnected from the cost of the state’s education program and from the needs of California children.” Caplan said.

Sacramento-area middle school student Nigel Robinson agreed.

“They haven’t provided us with what we need to succeed.” Robinson said. “I just want the state to do its job.”

Voters passed Proposition 98 two decades ago to guarantee a minimum level of funding for education. About 40 percent of the general fund goes to K-12 schools. But Bob Wells says that doesn’t mean 40 percent is enough. He’s with the Association of School Administrators — one of the supporters of Prop 98.

“It was written to kind of stem the loss,” Wells said “to put a floor under the cuts. And the Governor and the legislature, every one of them since then has found ways to manipulate Prop 98 and get around it.”

The lawsuit asks the courts to get rid of California’s funding system for K-12 education and replace it with something better.

California Secretary of Education Bonnie Reiss said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will oppose the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs say the state has cut $17 billion from K-12 schools and community colleges over the past two years.

"They need to draw a conclusion that there is an connection between the demands and the expectations that they create and the funding system to get them there," Frank Pugh with the California School Boards Association said today on AirTalk.