Supreme Court Declares School Funding System Unconstitutional; State Must Prepare
Adequacy Study and "Chart a New Course for Public Education"
21, 2002, in Lake View School District v. Huckabee, the Arkansas Supreme
Court affirmed a lower court decision declaring
the state education finance system unconstitutional and finding "extremely troublesome"
the State's failure to prepare a study on the per-pupil cost of providing an adequate
education. The "key" to a constitutional funding system, the court said, is to
determine what comprises an adequate education, including adequate funding to
The court stayed its order
for little more than one year, until January 1, 2004, to allow the State "time
to correct this constitutional [violation] . . . and chart a new course for public
education in this state."
The court rejected the State's "farfetched" and
"implausible" argument that enhanced school funding does not correlate with better
student performance, and concluded that adequately paid "teachers, sufficient
equipment to supplement instruction, and learning in facilities that are [adequate],
all combine to enhance educational performance. . . . All of that takes money."
The court found the funding system unconstitutional both because it is
inadequate and inequitable. Under the Education Article of the state constitution,
the court held, "the State has an absolute duty . . . to provide an adequate education
to each school child." After reiterating some of the lower court's factual findings
about the quality of education, the court concluded that the state has "a remarkably
serious problem with student performance" and that the current educational system
is "woefully inadequate." Therefore, the court held that "the State has not fulfilled
its constitutional duty" to provide an adequate education and "the current school-funding
system violates the Education Article."
Prepared November 21, 2002