The three lawyers for Southern Legal Counsel have settled in Tallahassee for the duration. The trial will last five weeks, but of course, regardless of the outcome there will be an appeal.
The State of Florida has fought the trial from the time it was first filed in 2009 until last year when the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the case must come to trial.
In a pretrial ruling, Judge Reynolds limited the case to the consideration of funding and the equity of funding for minority and disadvantaged students. Given that Florida ranks at the bottom in support for education and near the bottom in its graduation rate, the debate will be lively.
No doubt the State will point to the improvement in state assessment scores and graduation rates since 2003. The validity of these increases may well be challenged. Florida’s fourth grade reading National Assessment for Education Progress (NAEP) did increase for a few years, mostly due to the policy to retain low scoring third graders The gains largely disappear by eighth grade. For the last eight years, Florida’s achievement scores have essentially flat lined.
School choice policies have accentuated these problems. The continuing resegregation of schools through charter schools and private school tax credit vouchers has been noted even by the U.S. Department of Education. The press is taking notice. You can help by contributing to help defray the costs of the trial. The firm prosecuting the case is a public interest firm that receives no financial award. They rely on donations to cover costs. Go to 5forChange to donate.
I will be sending press releases. Here’s one from the Florida Bulldog. Click the headline to read.