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Florida Supreme Court Asked To Review Education 'adequacy' Ruling

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Education advocates upset that lower courts have denied their efforts to force Florida to enhance school funding and to alter school policies asked the Florida Supreme Court on Friday to take up their 9-year-old case.

The case, known as Citizens for Strong Schools v. Florida State Board of Education, was filed by parents and education advocacy groups, including Orlando-based Fund Education Now.

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In December, the 1st District Court of Appeal sided with the state, saying judges cannot rule on the best way to educate the state’s students because those decisions, based on the state constitution, rest with lawmakers and the governor.

The appeals court ruling was similar to that of a circuit judge in Tallahassee, who ruled initially. He said the lawsuit dealt with “political questions not subject to judicial review.”

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The 2009 lawsuit claimed Florida public schools were not adequately funded and did not provide a solid education to all students in violation of the Florida Constitution. The case was a challenge to the school reforms ushered in by former Gov. Jeb Bush nearly two decades ago — including state testing and A-to-F school grades — and to Florida’s school funding system.

The case went to trial in 2016. After four weeks of testimony, and nearly 5,500 exhibits presented, the circuit court judge ruled for the state, saying funding was “adequate” and that decisions about public education rested with the other branches of state government.

The plaintiffs, who had argued inadequate funding shortchanged many students, appealed. But the judges on the appeals court weren’t swayed by their arguments, either. They ruled the lawsuit raised “political questions” about educational choices the courts did not have the power to settle.

lpostal@orlandosentinel.com 407-420-5273

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Source : http://www.orlandosentinel.com/features/education/school-zone/os-florida-schools-court-adequacy-20180112-story.html

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