No Constitutional Right to ‘Quality’ Education

Courts simply don’t have to power to declare California constitutionally obligated to provide a “quality” education to students, a state appeals court ruled Wednesday.

The First District Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 vote, upheld dismissal of two consolidated lawsuits by several students and nonprofit associations that claimed students attending state public schools that the state has violated the state Constitutional by using an “irrational educational funding scheme.

According to the lawsuit, the Legislature’s current method of funding education fails to ensure that all public school children have the opportunity to become educationally proficient according to current academic standards. One of the suits was brought by the Campaign for Quality Education. In addition, the California Teachers Association intervened in support of the claims.

In rejecting the argument, the appeals court said the students and nonprofit groups have failed to state a claim “for which judicial relief may be afforded them.”

“We agree with the general proposition, embodied in appellants’ arguments, that an education of ‘some quality’ accords with good pubic police,” wrote Justice Martin Jenkins. “However, the question in this case is not whether the concept of an education of ‘some quality’ comports with good public policy. The question before us is whether the right to an education of ‘some quality’ is enshrined, as a constitutional right,” he wrote. Jenkins was joined by Justice Peter Siggins, who also wrote separately.

In dissent, Justice Stuart Pollak said he would reinstate the lawsuit and send it back to the lower court. California’s Constitution compels the state to maintain grades K-12 that meet some minimal quality standard.

Campaign for Quality Education v. State of California, No. A134423


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