Reblogged from STATE OF OPPORTUNITY
If you’ve been following State of Opportunity for a while, you’ve probably heard us say this a few times now: our state constitution legally promises all Michigan kids a “free” education, but it says nothing about that education being “adequate” or “equitable.”
Here’s the exact language:
Sec. 2. The Legislature shall maintain and support a system of free public elementary and secondary schools as defined by law. Every school district shall provide for the education of its pupils without discrimination as to religion, creed, race, color or national origin.
Can’t get much blander or broader that that.
And there’s a reason state constitutions use such broad language: as the ACLU discovered last year, it’s harder to sue a state for equity or quality in education when you only promise that it’s free. Does your kid go to school for free? Check. Legal requirements met.
If, on the other hand, the constitution promises an education that’s “adequate” or “equitable,” the state opens itself up to lawsuits from folks who say what they’re getting does not meet those (albeit squishy) terms.
But next year we could get a little more clarity.
Last spring, the state commissioned a so-called “adequacy” study to figure out what it actually costs to appropriately educate a child in Michigan and the results will be published next March.
Michigan is pretty late to the whole “adequacy study” game. We’re one of only a handful of states that has not voluntarily opted to do one or been required to do one by the courts.