School Funding - By David Hakim

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School Funding

I have been an attorney in the Detroit area for the past 25 years.  During this period I have been aware of a wide disparity and inequity in the funding of our school districts.  Based upon this knowledge and my knowledge of constitutional law, I believe that our state’s public school financing system, which is based substantially on local property taxes and results in wide disparities in school revenue, should be held to violat the equal protection clauses of our state and federal constitutions.  This funding scheme invidiously discriminates against the poor because it makes the quality of a child’s education a function of the wealth of his/her parents and neighbors. 

 

Many wealthy districts have excellent educational facilities whereas the poor districts, because of the inability of the property holders to spend more, have schools wherein the class size is much larger, courses offered are fewer, inadequate counseling is available, artistic programs are lacking, and buildings are old and run down.  Therefore, the education aopportunities made available to children in some districts, such as Detroit, are substantially inferior to the educational opportunities available tochildren of other districts.

 

As a result of the preceding inequities, many students in poorer districts are not as well educated or adjusted wherein they are able to effectively function in our society.  The effect of this is apparent.  As time passes, however, our standard of living could be severely affected because of the lack of trained workers.

 

Other states, such as Arkansas, California, Florida, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, and Texas have already acted to proclaim their state’s similar school financing laws unconstitutional.  If our state Legislature will act to provide more funds to impoverished school districts, our state’s law may someday justly treat everyone fairly and assist everyone to acquire a quality education.  This would do much to prevent unequal job opportunities, disparate income and limited ability to participate in the social, cultural and political aspects of our society.

 

David C. Hakim

Grosse Pte. Woods

 

Published August 26, 1992 in the Detroit News
Published August 27, 1992 in the Grosse Pointe News

 








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