" Our Constitution endows the people's elected representatives with vast discretion in fulfilling their constitutional duty to fashion a school system fit for our dynamic and fast-growing State's unique characteristics. We hope lawmakers will seize this urgent challenge and upend an ossified regime ill- suited for 21st century Texas. "
- Justice Don Willet In early 2016, the prospects of reform in public education, both in terms of financing and delivery, were not clear. An August 28, 2014 ruling by Travis County District Court Judge John Dietz held that the Texas school finance system was unconstitutional under several provisions of the Texas Constitution.
The Texas Supreme Court ruled in the case on May 13, 2016. The Court upheld Texas’s school finance system as constitutional, though Justice Don Willett, writing for the Court, urged the Legislature to update what he called an “ossified regime ill-suited for 21st century Texas.” The opinion of the Court makes clear that its justices are receptive to school choice, pointing out that “[i]n the Texas higher education setting, school choice has proven to be smart policy.” The Court’s opinion calls arguments that efficiency in public education could be increased by more student-centered funding (i.e. school choice) “intriguing.” And despite no constitutional mandate for school choice, the Court “hope[s] the Legislature will consider these and similar suggestions.” This paper argues that Texas should adopt more choice in education, and ultimately recommends that Texas enact a broad education savings account program.