A novel legal case for ed funding

Published 9:03 pm Tuesday, May 23, 2017

In a creative lawsuit, a group is alleging that Mississippi has violated a federal law regarding education that allowed the state back into the union after the Civil War.

The Southern Poverty Law Center wants a federal judge to force the state’s leaders to comply with the 1870 law, which says Mississippi must never deprive any citizen of the “school rights and privileges” described in first post-Civil War constitution, The Associated Press reported.

That law still obligates Mississippi to provide a “uniform system of free public schools” for all children, the group said.

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The lawsuit is seeking equal opportunities and outcomes for all students.

It’s no secret that schools in wealthy, white districts tend to perform better than those in poor, black districts.

The Southern Poverty Law Center says that violates the very law that allowed the state to rejoin the union. The SPLC suit says that changes made to the state’s constitution over the years took away the provision of the law that says the state can’t deprive citizens of “school rights.”

Republican leaders dismissed the lawsuit as “almost laughable” and a simply a fundraising attempt. While that’s a stretch, the group will likely face an uphill battle with this suit. The provision was written more than 140 years ago, meaning courts can easily dismiss it as an antiquated idea from a bygone era.

This isn’t the only lawsuit the state is facing over education. Former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove is representing 21 school districts demanding that the state pay back amounts it has shorted districts under the public school funding formula between 2010 and 2015, AP reported.

It’s clear that the courts will help shape the future of education in Mississippi, and that’s largely because the state’s leaders have failed for years to make education a priority.