School funds not courts’ job

Not bad to have a book published one week and be cited by the U.S. Supreme Court the next.

That is the case for veteran Atlanta lawyer Alfred A. Lindseth, co-author with economist Eric A. Hanushek of a valuable new book that should be required reading for judges tempted to substitute their opinions for legislators’ in school-funding cases. Hanushek is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Their book, “Schoolhouses, Courthouses, and Statehouses,” published last week, was cited Thursday in an Arizona education-funding case.

This book is relevant here, though Georgia is barely mentioned, because officials of mostly rural systems have sued for more state money. They pulled the suit in a bit of Fulton County judge-shopping, but it is certain to be back. Their complaint seeks “adequate” funding.

Thereupon they stand, on the slippery slope that inevitably propels activist judges into the separation-of-powers conflict and education policy quagmire.

The slippery slope begins in Georgia’s Constitution. “An adequate public education for the citizens shall be a primary obligation of the State,” it declares. As Lindseth and Hanushek note, however, “‘adequacy’” is both a legal and a factual concept, and one that has been difficult for courts, litigants, educators, legislators and the public to grasp.”

They cite New York litigation. That state constitution language is even weaker than Georgia’s. It calls for “free common schools.” Yet, after two trials and five appellate decisions, “it is still difficult for someone reading the court’s various opinions to decide whether New York’s constitution requires a basic education, a world-class education, or something in between.” How much systems spend may have little to do with outcomes, nor do spending levels provide a clue as to which states are likely to be sued. Lindseth and Hanushek point to suits in high-spending states. None of the lowest spenders has been ordered to increase K-12 spending, they write.

States and districts that have done the best job of turning students at risk into high achievers — Texas and North Carolina through the 90s — didn’t approach the national average in per-pupil spending. Schools in general are limited in their ability to overcome “the harmful influences of the home or communities,” they say. Promoting jobs and stronger families — marriage, I argue, a mother and father in the home — may be the wiser use of extra money.

Policy and priority issues, in any event, belong in the Legislature, not in the courts.

Editor’s note:

After writing columns for more than 25 years, Jim Wooten is retiring — sort of. This is his last Sunday column, but he will continue to write “Thinking Right” every Friday and will blog regularly on ajc.com. Since Jim joined the Journal in 1971, he has been an important part of this newspaper. He is most proud of the work he did on corrupt government pensions, which saved the state tens of millions of dollars. “Newspapers are great instruments to change the world. I’m going to miss that,” he said.

Jim grew up in McRae and is a graduate of the University of Georgia. A Vietnam veteran, Wooten served in the Georgia Army National Guard for more than 20 years. He was chosen in 1996 as the Outstanding Alumnus of the UGA College of Journalism and Mass Communications. Georgia Trend magazine has named him one of the year’s 100 most influential Georgians for most of the past decade. We thank him for all of his work, and we’re so glad he’ll still be contributing to the AJC.

— Julia Wallace
Editor, Atlanta Journal-Constitution and ajc.com

68 comments Add your comment

Pubby tards lose everything they try

June 28th, 2009
4:37 pm

The federal government’s long term financial debacle was created by Raegan, Greenspan, Gingrich, Phil Graham, Bush, and the Republican Congress in control for years along with Blue Dog Democrats and only a fiscal, economic moron would expect it to be resolved within the first 7 months of a presidency. It is going to take Obama’s entire first term to begin to turn around and as Krugman saidon ABC, the picture of potential Repubtardican candidates is the weakest clown show in history. None of them could begin to get elected with their 10% of the electorate base. Mr. Wooten’s remaining years will witness Publitard defeat after defeat after defat. They dug one hell of a fiscal hole with their stupid 4 trillion and growing Iraq fiasco that is now yielding a major explosion with casualties in doble digits per day as the Americans pull back come Tuesday.

AmVet

June 28th, 2009
6:22 pm

Mr. Wooten, I have excoriated many of the positions and ideas you advocated.

But I have no doubt you are a fine man and a good American.

All the best…

Pubby tards lose everything they try

June 28th, 2009
6:58 pm

As Wooten leaves, the AJC takes a strong swing to a right wing newspaper kicking Tucker, Bookman, and Downey off the editorial board, shrinking into a corner and afraid to take on any controversial issues, cutting Bookman to just one more column per week than Wooten has to push his political naiviety that believes A dimwit like Palin is viable LOL this makes me grin every time I think about it for POTUS. Downney who used to love to dive into controversy has been handcuffed and muzzled by right wingnut Julia Wallace and sent to what amounts to Antartica–school issues in Georgia. Tucker seems to be reduced to one column per week, and they kicked her out of Georgia. She’s in DC and they don’t have a Washington bureau. They took Tucker’s place with a right wingnut installed by Cox and Cox aparichicks with little news experience now populate the AJC board.

A solid PhD thesis on the disintegrtation of a newspaper could be done by studying the demise of the AJC and the dilution of it by Wallace who now publishes a high school paper. All international or national coverage is pilfered from the air brained right wing Associated Press.

Pubby tards lose everything they try

June 28th, 2009
8:09 pm

Sanford is following a familiar criminal pattern. When caught with his hand in the nookie jar having stolen many thousands from the state of S.C., Sanford is running to whatever real or not Christ is. The Pubtard crooks always hide in the skirts of “Christ” and just get nauseatingly “christier.”

Michael H. Smith

June 28th, 2009
11:00 pm

Speaking of political morons, what political neophyte applauds a dummy that screams CHANGE entering the White House without an economic plan to fix the deficit, rather than using the excuse of wallowing in the red ink of his predecessor for his own lack of doing nothing but to speed more.

Leads the political savvy to believe Obumer-O’samer’s plan, is to have no plan and to rely solely on his predecessor’s budget failures as “a timeless excuse” for his own economic incompetence to address the deficit in hopes no one will notice the absence of CHANGE, leaving his pitiful supporters disarmed and defenseless, with only the DNC tabloids to thumb through and the GOP past to chide while in denial of their own.


“Debt is growing faster than gross domestic product.”

1984

June 28th, 2009
11:20 pm

Jackie, let’s be pals.

Pubby tards lose everything they try

June 29th, 2009
3:46 am

It has emerged that McClatchy newspapers, everything the AJC has never been and will certainly never be, has uncovered two other nookie sources that Sanford may well have used state funds to visit, wine, and dine.

Pubby tards lose everything they try

June 29th, 2009
3:50 am

Pubby tards lose everything they try

June 29th, 2009
3:56 am

@ Michael Smith–your lack of reading and understanding of economics dynamics is how and why you lose every election and vote in Congress.

7 months isn’t enough time to cleanup the mess that took years for mostly Pubtards in control, but some dems to be sure to cause the near depression we have. You need to start from scratch by reading Krugman’s latest book and the best seller House of Cards or stay ignorant. Obama couldn’t have been more prepared to hit the ground running in cleaning up the clusterfook your party made, and he’s not going far enough. The strategy of saying he’s no good without offering your own plans for economic recoverygetting you and your party nowhere and we will continue to crush you in every election with the exception of a few ignorant Southern states until the old white redneck bigots are dead and Hispanics and African Americans as well as educated whites take their places.

sharecropper

June 29th, 2009
8:02 am

You know, Jim Wooten is another one of those bobbleheads — some wingnut says something really stupid and Wooten starts nodding his head — who cry on the one hand about “activist” judges and judges “making policy”, then immediately demands the Supreme Court overturn Roe v Wade. Hello? The lights are on, but nobody’s home. I wish him well, and hope he gets far enough from the madding crowd to get his head straight and realize that the Bush-Cheney insane asylum is gone.

GTOMan

June 29th, 2009
9:20 am

I stand by my previous statement, you are all idiots!

Where is John Galt when we really need him?

Jim, Thanks for your many years of service to our country and for the courage to stand by your convictions.

Hooah!

[...] Jim Wooten says its not the courts job to monitor school system spending. [...]

Pubtards Continue to Lose

June 29th, 2009
10:34 am

Cass Sunstein, one of the most brilliant constitutional lawyers in the country, who could be on the faculty of any law school vs. Saxby Chambliss, a country bumpkin, who knows as much about constitutional law as a 3rd grader. Saxbut is just pissed because Obama has told him he’s going to veto the Lockheed F22 so we can use that 1.5 billion for health care.

Pubtards Continue to Lose

June 29th, 2009
10:37 am

Jim Wooten wouldn’t know a court from his butt and it shows. Anything a pubtard doesn’t want is “activist judging” and they’ve lost most of the federal cases even with the courts stacked heavily in their favor. Further, Obama’s filings have been to the right of Bush which is completely unappreciated by the pubtard commentariat because they don’t read much of anything, and they sure aren’t able to read law reviews, briefs, and opinions. To date, the Obusha DOJ has lost most of their right wing bids in opinions.

Pubtards Continue to Lose

June 29th, 2009
10:50 am

Justice Kennedy’s 5-4 Opinion in Ricci v. DeStefano

A couple notes for the legally ignorant pubtards. The 2nd Circuit opinion was issued by the 3 judge panel per curiam. Contrary to popular pubtard belief, while Sotomayor was on the panel, you really get no extrapolation of her t’hought process in that the opinion which of course you didn’t read but neither did your nutbag attorneys in the Senate, was eight (8) sentences long which is the trouble when a judge and their law clerk won’t take ownership of an opinion that actually costs many thousands of dollars to litigate. The 2nd circuit refused to take the opinion en banc saying they thought it didn’t merit more than 8 sentences.

What the opinion has told the city, is that they can promote the white firefighters without fear of legal retribution in the form of discrimination law suits. Read the opinion (but of course you won’t even though I served it up to you).

Kennedy delivered the majority. Scalia and Alito filed separate concurrences (no surprise there) and Thomas and Scalia joined Alito’s concurrence. Ginsburg filed a dissent in which Stevens, Souter and Breyer joined.

Bottom line–Sotomayor was one of 3 at the Second Circuit who issued an 8 sentence opinion signed by none of them, and the Supremes decided it by the usual narrow party line split 5-4.

Value for stopping Sotomayor–the same chance that you, Wooten, and soon to be defrocked and probably indicted Sanford who was rotating 3 ectopic nookies at once will party tonight with Megan Fox.

Pubtards Continue to Lose

June 29th, 2009
11:03 am

Gingrich vs. Carvell on media bias now C-Span 3.

Michael H. Smith

June 30th, 2009
3:58 pm

Pubby tards lose everything they try

June 29th, 2009
3:56 am

Stick to something you know, like the tabloids.

Go back a bit further to where the real mess began. Robert Rubin and Larry Summers, those names should ring a bell in conjunction with Greenspan but only for those in the know that were watching the last two years during the Clinton administration.

Now go flatter yourself with the national inquire.

getalife

July 3rd, 2009
7:34 pm

The loony tune drama queen Palin has left the stage.

Next stop, false news.