Though today’s ruling was a clear victory for the state, the Commissioner of Education, the Chairman of the Board of Education, and the Attorney General were careful not to gloat this afternoon. “We are hardly done here,” said Commissioner of Education David Driscoll. “We have a lot more work to do.”
In the long-anticipated ruling, the Supreme Judicial Court said Massachusetts is meeting its constitutional duty to fund schools in lower-income communities – rejecting a lawsuit that challenged the state’s education funding formula. “The court realized that this is not the court’s job to run the schools,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly.
The 5-2 decision struck down a recommendation by Superior Court Judge Margot Botsford last April which said the state was under-funding poorer school districts and the state should revise it’s education funding formula. In today’s ruling, Chief Justice Margaret Marshall wrote, “No one, including the defendants, disputes that serious inadequacies in public education remain.” “But the Commonwealth is moving systemically to address those deficiencies and continues to make education reform a fiscal priority.”
Plaintiff attorney Michael Weisman says, he hopes Massachusetts will continue to make it a fiscal priority. “The decision says that the state has made progress and that this court is going to give the state more time to get the job done.”
Weisman says that means continued state efforts to improve education for all the children of Massachusetts. “It’s an end to this particular lawsuit. But it’s really a time when we’re going to see what the governor and legislature are going to do and then we’ll decide whether further action is necessary.”