Last Tuesday (June 26), the state Court of Appeals issued a decision in favor of a group of small-city school districts, allowing their lawsuit against the state over education funding to be heard in a lower court.

The Association of Small City School Districts sued the state in 2008, arguing that they have not received the state funding required to provide students with the “sound basic education” the state constitution requires.

The lawsuit is similar to the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) case, in which a group of parents, school and teachers’ union officials, and education advocates successfully argued that the state did not meet its constitutional obligation to provide a sound basic education.    The CFE case lasted for 10 years before it was resolved in 2007 with a multiyear plan to increase aid.

In 2010, $52 billion was spent on public education in New York State, an average of $18,618 per student, more than every other state except California, according to a recent U.S. Census Bureau report.

If the CFE decision is any guide, this decision may end up costing state taxpayers many millions of dollars.  It is not that we do not spend enough money on our students – we spend more than any other state in the nation — the issue is how that money is being spent.  Too many taxpayer dollars are paying for unfunded state mandates and other non-educational expenses.