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									             IN THE SUPREME COURT OF ARKANSAS




                 DISTRICT
LAKE VIEW SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 25
                   ET
OF PHILLIPS COUNTY ET AL                                  APPELLANTS

V.                              01-
                            NO. 01-836

                GOVERNOR
MIKE HUCKABEE, GOVERNOR
OF THE STATE OF ARKANSAS, ET AL.
                ARKANSAS,                                 APPELLEES
                                                          APPELLEES




                  On Appeal from the Chancery Court
                     of Pulaski County, Arkansas

                      Honorable Collins Kilgore
                          Presiding Judge

                    __________________________

                     AMICUS CURIAE BRIEF
                             OF THE
                                   POLICY
                ARKANSAS PUBLIC POLICY PANEL
                            AND THE
                                 COMMUNITY
             RURAL SCHOOL AND COMMUNITY TRUST
                    _________________________



                                                              Regina Haralson
                                      Kaplan, Brewer, Maxey & Haralson, P.A.
                                                              415 Main Street
                                                       Little Rock, AR 72201
                                                              (501) 372-0400
                 OUTLINE OF AMICUS CURIAE BRIEF

I.     INTRODUCTION AND THE ISSUES TO BE ADDRESSED BY AMICI.


II.    IN ORDER TO GUARANTEE ALL ARKANSAS CHILDREN EQUAL EDUCATIONAL
                                               SYSTEM
       OPPORTUNITY, THE STATE'S SCHOOL FINANCE SYSTEM MUST TAKE INTO
       ACCOUNT THE EXTENT OF POVERTY IN RURAL COMMUNITIES.

       A. Arkansas has a high poverty rate, particularly among its children.

       B. Poverty has a profound impact on Arkansas' rural communities and
          children.


III.   A HIGH PERCENTAGE OF ARKANSAS STUDENTS ATTEND RURAL SCHOOLS
       WHERE ISOLATION, POPULATION SPARSENESS, AND POVERTY COMBINE TO
       CREATE UNIQUE EDUCATIONAL CHALLENGES NOT EXPERIENCED BY OTHER
       SCHOOLS IN LARGER, MORE PROSPEROUS PLACES.

IV.    DESPITE THEIR DISADVANTAGES, RURAL STUDENTS HAVE THE CAPACITY TO
       ACHIEVE AT FAR GREATER LEVELS IF THEY ARE PROVIDED WITH EQUAL
       EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES.

       A. There is a correlation between poverty, race, and educational
          achievement.

       B. Arkansas’ disadvantaged children are fully capable of achieving at far greater
          levels.

       C. If Arkansas targets additional funding toward schools and students relative
          to their need and local cost variations, student achievement can be
          improved.

       D. Money matters in the process of educating children.

          1. Arkansas' investment in education is relatively low and is reflected in the
             achievement of its students.




                                        2
         2. To ensure equal educational opportunity, Arkansas must invest more
            resources in schools where the need is greatest and in programs that
            improve achievement among disadvantaged students.


V.    GEOGRAPHY CONTINUES TO DETERMINE EDUCATIONAL DESTINY FOR
      THOUSANDS OF RURAL STUDENTS BECAUSE ARKANSAS' SCHOOL FINANCE
      SYSTEM RELIES HEAVILY ON LOCAL PROPERTY TAXES TO FUND EDUCATION.

      A. The State of Arkansas has the ultimate responsibility for educating its
         children.

      B. Arkansas' heavy reliance on local property taxes to fund education results in
         education resources being allocated to schools without any rational
         relationship to need.

      C. The state's efforts to mitigate disparities in funding among school districts
         are not adequate to overcome the power of local property taxes as a source
         of education funding.


VI.   THE TRIAL COURT WAS CORRECT IN CONCLUDING THAT THE STATE'S FAILURE
                                    HIGH-
      TO PROVIDE ALL STUDENTS WITH HIGH-QUALITY TEACHERS, ADEQUATE
                               CHALLENGING
      SCHOOL FACILITIES, AND A CHALLENGING CURRICULUM DENIES THESE
      STUDENTS AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN.

      A. Raising teacher salaries and improving teacher quality is the most crucial
         educational component to address if the state is to meet its constitutional
         obligation to provide students with equal educational opportunity.

         1. Higher teacher salaries correlate with higher student achievement.

         2. Arkansas is failing to make other investments that can improve the
            quality of teachers.

         3. Arkansas invests far too little to be able to attract and retain high-quality
            teachers.

         4. The need for high-quality teachers is greatest in low-wealth and rural
            communities, but these communities cannot compete with wealthier
            communities in the labor market for teachers if the state funding




                                        3
              mechanism does not offset their competitive disadvantage in local
              wealth.

          5. Rural schools face unique challenges in recruiting and retaining high-
             quality teachers.

          6. Courts have found highly qualified and well-paid teachers to be a
             necessary component of equal educational opportunity.

       B. Students attending low-wealth schools are being denied equal educational
          opportunity because Arkansas' school finance system does not ensure that
          they have access to adequate school facilities.

       C. Students in many rural low-wealth schools are being denied an equal
          opportunity to learn because they do not have access to a challenging
          curriculum.


VII.                                                HIGH-
       SMALL RURAL SCHOOLS ARE A KEY COMPONENT OF A HIGH-QUALITY
       EDUCATION.

       A. Small schools have been shown to significantly benefit student
          achievement, especially among poor and minority students.

       B. A recent Arkansas study found that low-income students who attend
          smaller schools achieve at higher levels than students attending larger
          schools.

       C. Small rural schools offer many other benefits to students and communities.

       D. The benefits of small schools have been judicially recognized as a key
          component of a high-quality education.

       E. Closing or consolidating small rural schools would fundamentally harm
          disadvantaged students, would not be cost effective, and would deny
          students equal educational opportunity.




                                        4
                            INTEREST OF AMICI CURIAE
The Arkansas Public Policy Panel (APPP) is a private non-profit organization dedicated to
improving social and economic justice in Arkansas by increasing the involvement of citizens
and grassroots community members in important public policy decisions. Since its creation
in 1963, originally as the Arkansas Panel of American Women, the APPP has been actively
involved in public education issues. The APPP works with a wide array of community
groups and citizens, including taxpayers, parents, students, education professionals, union
members, and farmers. These groups believe that education is of paramount importance to
the people of Arkansas and that the state's school finance system must be reformed so that
every child in the state is offered equal educational opportunity. The APPP supports the
trial court's ruling in this case and believes that the court appropriately directed the
legislative and executive branches of state government to take steps to reform Arkansas'
system for funding public schools.

The Rural School and Community Trust (Rural Trust) is a nationally recognized non-profit
organization dedicated to promoting equal educational opportunity and improving
learning for students who attend public schools located in rural communities across the
United States. The Rural Trust has significant expertise and experience in the fields of
education finance, law, and policy. Arkansas has the highest percentage of students in the
nation attending rural and small schools. More often than not, these students live in
economically distressed communities where the only path out of poverty is through the
schoolhouse door. Yet, the method chosen by the State of Arkansas to fund its public
schools prevents many rural schools from offering students equal educational opportunities.
As a consequence, the Rural Trust believes that rural students are not acquiring the skills
and knowledge they will need to become full and contributing participants in the social,
political and economic life of the state. The Rural Trust believes that it is important to have
the perspectives of these children presented to the Court because rural students, like other
students, deserve nothing less than the full protection of the law.




                                              5
                                          ARGUMENT

I. INTRODUCTION AND THE ISSUES TO BE ADDRESSED BY AMICI.

   Every school day, the educational destiny of thousands of Arkansas students is
   determined by geography. Nearly 20 years ago, in Dupree v. Alma School District
   No.30, 279 Ark. 340, 651 S.W.2d 90 (1983), this Court reviewed Arkansas' school
   finance system. It found that the state's heavy reliance on local property taxes to fund
   schools resulted in a funding system that bore no rational relationship to the
   educational needs of school districts. In finding that the finance system violated the
   state's equal protection clause, the Court concurred in the view that "the educational
   opportunity of the children in this state should not be controlled by the fortuitous
   circumstance of residence . . . " Id. at 345, 651 S.W.2d at 93. Since that decision in
   1983, an entire generation of students has attended Arkansas' public schools.
   Regrettably, very little has changed during this time. Despite recent changes in the
   state's school finance system, a child's residence continues to determine his or her
   opportunity to receive a high-quality education.

   For more than 30 years, state supreme courts across the country have grappled with
   constitutional issues raised by students' advocates seeking equity and adequacy in their
   public schools. In addition to Arkansas, high courts in seventeen other states have
   found their school finance systems to be unconstitutional, either because they create
   impermissible inequities, because the finance system is inadequate, or both. See
   National Center for Educational Statistics, Education Finance Statistics Center, School
   Finance Litigation, D. Long, ed. (1999). The trial court's decision in this case provides
   a well-reasoned treatment of both educational equity and adequacy. The trial court
   weighed both of these mandates for educational funding, properly concluding that the
   state's school funding system violated the state equal protection clause and the
   Constitution's education clause. The trial court's findings are fully grounded in the
   record, supported by a wide body of education research and consistent with and
   supported by the decisions of other courts. Although Amici support the trial court's
   decision on both equity and adequacy grounds, in this brief Amici will focus their
   arguments primarily on the equity portions of the court's ruling.


II. IN ORDER TO GUARANTEE ALL ARKANSAS CHILDREN EQUAL EDUCATIONAL
    OPPORTUNITY, THE STATE'S SCHOOL FINANCE SYSTEM MUST TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE
    EXTENT OF POVERTY IN RURAL COMMUNITIES.

   A. Arkansas has a high poverty rate, particularly among its children.




                                                  6
   Like other states, Arkansas is currently in the grip of an economic recession.
   Unemployment is up. Many businesses are closing. There is a higher demand for
   human and social support services. Yet, even before the recession began, many in
   Arkansas were not faring well by any number of economic or social indicators. For
   example, Arkansas' poverty rate in 1998 was 16.4%, compared to 12.7% nationally.
   The state's per capita income of $21,260 ranks it 47th nationally, far below the
   national average of $27,322. See Univ. of Arkansas, Agricultural Experiment Station
   and Cooperative Ext. Service, Rural Profile of Arkansas 2001--A Look at Economic
   and Social Trends Affecting Rural Arkansas (2000).

   For children living in Arkansas the picture is even bleaker. One in four Arkansas
   children lives below the poverty level, the third highest rate in the nation. These
   children face risks greater than children from families with higher incomes, including
   poor health and nutrition, inadequate shelter, and personal injury. For example,
   Arkansas ranks 43rd among the 50 states in its infant mortality rate, and nearly
   145,000 of the state's children lack access to health insurance, placing Arkansas 46th
   nationally in its percentage of uninsured children. See U.S. Census Bureau, Poverty
   in the U.S.: 2000; Children's Defense Fund, 2001 Children in the States: Arkansas,
   Wash., D.C. (2001); Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2001 Kids Count Data Book,
   Arkansas, Baltimore, Md. (2001).

B. Poverty has a profound impact on Arkansas' rural communities and children.

   Arkansas is a rural state. Nearly half of the state's population--46.5%--live in areas
   that are officially classified as rural, compared to 24.8% of the total U.S. population
   (“Rural” is defined as those communities with fewer than 2500 people). The
   poverty rate for rural Arkansas is 63% greater than the U.S. average for rural
   communities, while the state's urban poverty rate approximates that of the nation.
   Arkansas' rural areas are distributed throughout the state. Within Arkansas, the
   poverty rate is highest in the Delta where many communities have rates well above
   40%. In these areas, Arkansas' rural children suffer from higher rates of poor health,
   malnutrition, inadequate housing, and other negative indicators of child well being.
   Rural Profile of Arkansas 2001, supra; U.S. Census Bureau, supra.

   In rural areas, only about 60% of persons 25 and older have completed high school,
   while in urban areas the rate is considerably higher. This disparity contributes to a
   labor force that is less prepared to compete with other communities, states, and
   countries for high-wage jobs. Rural communities also have a rising aging population
   which, when coupled with an out-migration of younger people during their prime
   wage-earning years, is resulting in a declining tax base. With a declining tax base,
   Arkansas' rural communities are trapped in a cruel cycle of poverty that prevents



                                             7
     them from adequately addressing their single most effective economic development
     strategy--improving their public schools. See Rural Profile of Arkansas 2001, supra,
     pp.7-28.


III. A HIGH PERCENTAGE OF ARKANSAS STUDENTS ATTEND RURAL SCHOOLS WHERE
     ISOLATION, POPULATION SPARSENESS, AND POVERTY COMBINE TO CREATE UNIQUE
                                                                     UNIQUE
     EDUCATIONAL CHALLENGES NOT EXPERIENCED BY OTHER SCHOOLS IN LARGER, MORE
     PROSPEROUS PLACES.
                 PLACES.

  Although the challenges faced by urban schools have been better publicized, rural
  schools also face a unique set of challenges as they seek to provide students with an
  education that will prepare them for productive work and active citizenship. A little
  more than two in five Arkansas schools are in rural areas of the state. Indeed, Arkansas
  has the highest percentage of students in the nation attending small and rural schools.
  Rural students are disproportionately poor, as reflected by the high percentage of
  students eligible for nutrition services under the federal free lunch program. As
  compared to the state as a whole, many rural school districts, particularly those located
  in the Delta, have concentrations of minority students well above the state average of
  27%. See U.S. Dept. of Educ., National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core
  of Data Public School Universe (1997-98); The Rural School and Community Trust,
  Why Rural Matters: The Need For Every State to Take Action on Rural Education,
  Arkansas Profile, Randolph, Vt. (2000).

  The conditions of the named plaintiff in this case, Lake View School District, are typical
  of the conditions facing students, educators and schools in many areas of Arkansas.
  Despite strong support for education among local residents, rural property values and a
  declining student enrolment translate into fewer resources. Fewer resources, coupled
  with rural isolation, make it difficult to recruit and retain high-quality teachers. High
  poverty rates limit the ability of many families to provide for their children's
  educational, health, and material needs. Moreover, poor rural households do not enjoy
  access to computers and other technology that are educationally beneficial.

  Space, distance, and sparse population also define and differentiate rural areas from
  urban parts of Arkansas. These factors often create long school bus rides that
  "educationally exhaust" students and hinder learning. Recent research on school bus
  rides in five states found the situation was worst in Arkansas, where nine out of ten
  elementary schools have bus rides lasting at least half an hour one way, and one in three
  have hour-long rides. A. Howley & C. Howley, The Rural School Bus Ride in Five
  States, Rural School and Community Trust, Wash., D.C. (2001).




                                            8
IV. DESPITE THEIR DISADVANTAGES, RURAL STUDENTS HAVE THE CAPACITY TO ACHIEVE
    AT FAR GREATER LEVELS IF THEY ARE PROVIDED WITH EQUAL EDUCATIONAL
    OPPORTUNITIES.
    OPPORTUNITIES.

  A. There is a correlation between poverty, race, and educational achievement.

      Children do not come to school from equal social or economic backgrounds.
      Decades of education research have confirmed that poverty has a direct negative
      relationship to student achievement. Because African-American students are
      disproportionately over-represented among children living in poverty, numerous
      studies have also revealed a wide and persistent gap in educational achievement
      between African-American students and their white counterparts. See, S. Drazen,
      Student Achievement and Family and Community Poverty: Twenty Years of
      Education Reform (1992); C. Jencks and M. Phillips, The Brookings Institute, The
      Black-White Test Score Gap (1998).

      Arkansas’ experience is consistent with this national problem. Recent results from
      both the Arkansas Benchmark Exams and the National Assessment of Education
      Progress (NAEP) tests show that African-American students score far below white
      students in every area tested. Ark. Dept. of Education, ACTAAP Testing Results
      (1999-2000); U.S. Dept. of Educ., National Assessment of Education Progress, The
      Nation’s Report Card, Wash., D.C. (2001).

     Arkansas’
  B. Arkansas’ disadvantaged children are fully capable of achieving at far greater levels.

      Life experiences associated with poverty and race, although tending to depress
      academic achievement, can be overcome. “Demography is not destiny. The amount
      of melanin in a student’s skin . . . and the amount of money in the family bank
      account are not the inexorable determinants of academic success.” Campaign for
      Fiscal Equity v. State of New York, 187 Misc.2d 1, 23, 719 N.Y.S.2d 475 (Sup. Ct.,
      N.Y. County, 2001). Educational evidence abounds that, with adequate resources,
      poor and minority children can succeed academically. See, e.g., Education Trust,
      Dispelling the Myth: High Poverty Schools Exceeding Expectations, Wash, D.C.
      (1999).

      Evidence that low income and minority students are fully capable of achieving at
      higher levels can also be found in the experiences of two southern states—Texas and
      North Carolina. In recent years, each state has made a commitment and financial
      investment in raising the achievement of poor and minority students. These efforts
      are paying off in the form of increased student achievement among students with
      disadvantaged backgrounds. Clearly, Arkansas’ poor and minority students can




                                                  9
   succeed educationally if only given an equal opportunity to do so. See D. Grissmer
   and A. Flanagan, National Educ. Goals Panel, Exploring Rapid Achievement Gains
   In North Carolina and Texas, Wash., D.C. (1998).

C. If Arkansas targets additional funding toward schools and students relative to their need and
   local cost variations, student achievement can be improved.

                                      educating
   1. Money matters in the process of educating children.

       The fact that money and financial resources matter in the process of educating
       children is implicit in the holdings of all courts that have found state spending to
       be constitutionally inequitable or inadequate. For example, a New York court
       recently concluded: “There is a causal link between funding and educational
       opportunity” and “increased educational resources, if properly deployed, can
       have a significant and lasting effect on student performance”. Campaign for
       Fiscal Equity v. State of New York, supra, 187 Misc.2d at 75. Similarly, the
       North Dakota Supreme Court found “[higher] expenditures in wealthy districts
       translate into more staff, better teacher-pupil ratios and programs, and adequate
       supplies. Greater funding means that schools do more things educationally, and
       do them better.” Bismark Pub. Sch. Dist. No. 1 v. State, 511 N.W.2d 247, 262
       (N.D. 1994). These conclusions are supported by several studies that have also
       found a correlation between financial investment and higher student
       achievement. See, R. Ferguson, Paying for Public Education, 28 Harvard Journal
       on Legislation, 465-97 (1991); L. Hedges et al., Does Money Matter? 23 Educ.
       Researcher, 5-14 (1994); R. Lame, et al., Where Does the Money Go?, 44-70,
       L. Picus & 1. Wattenberg, eds. (1996).

      Arkansas’
   2. Arkansas’ investment in education is relatively low and is reflected in the achievement of its
      students.

       Compared to the rest of the nation, Arkansas invests very little in education. In
       1999 the state and local governments invested an average of $4,474 per pupil in
       education, ranking Arkansas 43rd in the nation. Education Week, Quality Counts
       2002, pp. 86-90 (Jan. 10, 2002). The state’s per capita expenditure rate for
       education places Arkansas even lower in education spending—dead last in the
       nation. National Center for Education Statistics, Condition of Education 2000
       Financial Support for Education, Wash., D.C. (2000). Incredibly, during a time
       when most states were investing more in education, Arkansas actually spent less.
       From 1986 to 1996, expenditures for education declined from 40% to 32.8% of
       state and local government spending. Southern Regional Education Board,




                                              10
   Education Benchmarks 2000, State and Local Government Spending for
   Education, Atlanta, Ga. (2001).

   State and national testing results reflect Arkansas’ lack of commitment to fund
   education. For example, on the state’s most recent Arkansas Benchmark Exams,
   only 38% of the state’s 8th graders were proficient in reading and writing literacy.
   In math, only 22% of 8th graders were found to be proficient. Likewise, results
   from the 2000 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a national
   test comparing student achievement among forty states and the District of
   Columbia, show that Arkansas placed near the bottom nationally in math
   achievement. In absolute terms, only 13% of the state’s 4th graders and 14% of its
   8th graders were found to be proficient in math by the NAEP exams. See Ark.
   Dept. of Education, ACTAAP Testing Results (1999-2000); Education Week,
   Quality Counts 2002, supra, at 98.

   The performance of Arkansas students on these two measures of educational
   achievement is not surprising given what the state spends per pupil on education.
   The connection between the state’s educational achievement and its financial
   investment in education is unmistakable. Arkansas must make a greater
   investment in education if it is to provide every child with equal educational
   opportunity.

3. To ensure equal educational opportunity, Arkansas must invest more resources in schools
   where
   where the need is greatest and in programs that improve achievement among disadvantaged
   students.

   Arkansas must target resources towards schools and students in relation to their
   needs and local variations in ability to fund education. The state’s constitutional
   responsibility to provide students with equal educational opportunity cannot be
   achieved simply by providing identical funding or programs among all districts.
   The Wyoming Supreme Court recognized this, concluding:

         [A] proper education today requires that broad categories of students’ needs
         must be addressed with appropriate education programs. Our children’s
         readiness to learn is impacted by social ills, learning deficiencies and a system
         which forces them into large classes or large schools. Children with an impaired
         readiness to learn do not have the same equal opportunity for a quality
         education as do those children not impacted by personal or social ills simply
         because they do not have the same starting point in learning. A . . . finance
         system which distributes dollars without regard for the need to level the playing
         field does not provide an equal opportunity for a quality education.




                                          11
          Campbell v. State, 907 P.2d 1238, 1278 (Wy. 1995). See also Pauley v. Kelly,
          162 W.Va. 672, 716 255 S.E.2d 859, 882 (1979) (concluding that “[a]
          thorough and efficient constitutional mandate requires something more than a
          mere equality of education funding to counties.”)

          Courts not only have found a correlation between resources and educational
          opportunity, they have also pointed to some of the policies and programs that
          education research has shown are most effective in improving student
          achievement. In Campbell v. State, supra, 907 P.2d at 1278, and Abbott v.
          Burke, 153 N.J. 480, 529-637 (1998), both supreme courts relied on education
          research to recognize a number of essential programs necessary to raise the
          achievement of poor and minority students. Included among these programs and
          strategies are high-quality teachers, a challenging and appropriate curriculum,
          high-quality facilities, small schools, small classes, preschool and kindergarten,
          remedial reading programs in the early grades, and programs to help parents be
          involved in their child’s education.


V. GEOGRAPHY CONTINUES TO DETERMINE EDUCATIONAL DESTINY FOR THOUSANDS OF
                                                         FOR
   RURAL STUDENTS BECAUSE ARKANSAS' SCHOOL FINANCE SYSTEM RELIES HEAVILY ON
   LOCAL PROPERTY TAXES TO FUND EDUCATION.

  A. The State of Arkansas has the ultimate responsibility for educating its children.

      Article 14, section 1 of the Arkansas Constitution provides, "[T]he State shall ever
      maintain a general, suitable and efficient system of free public schools . . . ."
      Moreover, Article 14, secion 3 provides, "The General Assembly shall provide for
      the support of the common schools. . . (emphasis supplied).” These two
      constitutional provisions make the state's responsibility for education mandatory,
      extending to all aspects of the education system, including funding, instruction,
      facilities, and curriculum. The notion of "local control" is not a constitutionally
      permissible reason for the state to abandon its constitutional responsibilities because
      "[t]he Constitution has no provision to allow the ultimate responsibility to be
      shifted to local school districts or to except individual students from the benefit of
      an education. Lake View Sch. Dist. v. Huckabee, No.1992-5318, Finding 125
      (Ark. Ch. Ct. Pulaski County, filed May 25, 2001), hereinafter cited as Trial Ct.
      Decision."




                                                 12
                                                                               results
B. Arkansas' heavy reliance on local property taxes to fund education results in education
   resources being allocated to schools without any rational relationship to need.

   Amici will not attempt to describe Arkansas' complex system of school finance. The
   trial court decision provides an excellent summary of the system. The element of the
   finance system that is critical to this case is the reliance on local property taxes to
   fund public schools. Because local property values vary considerably from school
   district to school district, and because some districts are willing or able to tax
   themselves at higher levels than others, funds available to local school districts across
   the state vary dramatically.

   The difference in annual spending per pupil between Arkansas' "property rich"
   school districts and the state's “property poor” school districts is significant.
   Disregarding the extremes, the difference between those schools spending at the
   95th percentile and those spending at the 5th percentile was $1,816 per pupil in the
   most recent school year. (Education Week, Quality Counts 2002, supra, at 89.)
   This difference in funding has real consequence for educating children in low-wealth
   and rural communities. Even in a small school district with a few hundred students,
   these additional dollars would be enough to raise teacher salaries, hire more teachers
   to reduce class size, renovate dilapidated buildings, offer remedial reading courses,
   or provide computers for every classroom.

C. The state's efforts to mitigate disparities in funding among school districts are not adequate to
   overcome the power of local property taxes as a source of education funding.

   The state has created a series of funding mechanisms in an effort to improve equity
   in funding among the state's school districts. These funding programs include the
   State Equalization Fund, discrete “categorical” funds to supplement the cost of
   educating students with unique needs, and a series of school facilities funds. The
   trial court examined each of these programs and concluded that they did not address
   the fundamental inequities in Arkansas' school finance system. Under the current
   system of relying on local property taxes, wealthier communities continue to have
   the power to raise additional revenue for education while poor communities are left
   with limited relief under the state's various programs. In effect, the current system
   perpetuates the funding gap between “property poor" and “property rich" districts.
   Moreover, the "categorical" and facilities funds are funded at levels far below what
   schools need, especially those located in rural and poor areas of the state. The
   resulting funding system bears no relationship to the mandates of the constitution,
   fails to level the playing field, and falls far short of guaranteeing every student in
   Arkansas an equal opportunity to learn as required by the Arkansas Constitution




                                              13
     under Article 14, section 1 and Article 2, section 2, 3, and 18.              See Trial Ct.
     Decision, Findings 22-56; Conclusions of Law 1, 2, 4, and 8.


VI. THE TRIAL COURT WAS CORRECT IN CONCLUDING THAT THE STATE'S FAILURE TO
    PROVIDE                        HIGH-
    PROVIDE ALL STUDENTS WITH HIGH-QUALITY TEACHERS, ADEQUATE SCHOOL
    FACILITIES, AND A CHALLENGING CURRICULUM DENIES THESE STUDENTS AN EQUAL
    OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN.

  A. Raising teacher salaries and improving teacher quality is the most crucial educational
     component to address if the state is to meet its constitutional obligation to provide students
                    address
     with equal educational opportunity.

     “The single most important factor necessary to ensure that the state’s system of
     education meets [constitutional standards] is the availability of well educated, well
     motivated, and well compensated teachers." (Trial Ct. Decision, Finding 123.) The
     trial court's conclusion is rooted in the relationship between salaries and teacher
     quality. A number of studies have found that teacher quality has a greater effect on
     student learning than any other single variable. One leading study examined all
     public schools (including Arkansas') that participate in the National Assessment of
     Educational Progress (NAEP) exams. It found that "[t]he most consistent highly
     significant predictor of student achievement in reading and mathematics in each year
     tested is the proportion of well-qualified teachers in a state." L. Darling-Hammond,
     Teacher Quality and Student Achievement: A Review of State Police Evidence, 8
     Educ. Policy Analysis Archives 27 (2000).

     Not only do high-quality teachers lead to higher levels of student achievement but,
     conversely, students suffer significant educational harm if they are subjected to
     ineffective teachers. A Tennessee study that tracked individual students over a
     number of years found that children who suffer from poor teaching for only a few
     successive years are unlikely ever to recover their missed educational opportunities.
     W. L. Sanders & J. C. Rivers, Cumulative and Residual Effects of Teachers on
     Future Student Academic Achievement, Value-Added Research and Assessment
     Center, Univ. of Tennessee (1996). Likewise, a recent North Carolina study found
     that for every one percent increase in teacher quality (as measured by National
     Teacher Examination scores), the percent of students who failed the state's
     competency tests decreased by three to five percent. R. P. Strauss & E.A. Sawyer,
     Some New Evidence on Teacher and Student Competencies, 5 Economics of
     Education Review 41-48 (1986).




                                               14
I. Higher teacher salaries correlate with higher student achievement.

    For Arkansas to provide students with equal educational opportunities, it must
    invest substantially in what it pays its teachers. Given the link between teacher
    quality and student achievement, it is not surprising that education researchers
    have found that improving teacher pay delivers greater gains in student
    achievement than any other reform initiative. The correlation between teacher
    pay and student achievement was confirmed by a recent national study showing
    that those states investing the most in teacher quality have the highest student
    achievement in the country. The study also found that “policies that jointly raise
    salaries and standards may offer particularly high leverage on teaching quality."
    L. Darling-Hammond, supra, at 24.

2. Arkansas is failing to make other investments that can improve the quality of teachers.

    In addition to paying its teachers inadequately, Arkansas has not taken advantage
    of or invested in other important approaches to improve teacher quality. Under a
    well-regarded national teaching program, teachers may become certified by the
    National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. This organization sets high
    standards for what teachers should know and be able to teach students. Because
    the program improves teacher quality, a number of states promote teacher
    participation by paying teachers' examination fees and providing salary bonuses.
    Arkansas has one of the lowest numbers of nationally certified teachers in the
    South, with only 59 as of November, 2001. By contrast, Arkansas' neighboring
    state, Mississippi, has 1,159 and North Carolina leads the South with 3,660
    National Board Certified teachers. These disparities are further evidence of
    Arkansas' lack of commitment to improve the quality of teaching. G. Gaines,
    Focus on Teacher Salaries, Southern Regional Education Board (2001).

    Arkansas also must train and support its teachers once they are hired. This means
    providing more than occasional teacher development programs. Teachers need
    significant opportunities to learn how to improve students' learning, especially in
    today's increasingly diverse and technology-dependent classroom. When teachers
    are afforded high quality training programs, their teaching practices change
    appreciably, they remain in the teaching profession longer, and student learning
    improves. D. Cohn & H. Hill, Learning Policy When State Education Reform
    Works at 7, Yale Univ. Press (2001).




                                           15
3. Arkansas invests far too little to be able to attract and retain high-quality teachers.
                                                                    high-

    The average teacher salary in Arkansas is $33,888. This salary level is low
    compared to other states, particularly in the South, and affects the state's ability
    to recruit and retain high quality teachers. The Southern Regional Educational
    Board, a highly credible organization providing educational services for Arkansas
    and 15 other southern states, recently found that, even after making some
    investments in the 1990's, Arkansas ranks near the bottom in teacher salaries in
    the South. G. Gaines, Focus on Teacher Salaries, supra (2001). Arkansas has not
    been able to move from this low ranking partly because other southern states
    have worked more aggressively to reach the national average for teacher pay.
    Unless Arkansas does more to increase teacher pay, there is every reason to
    believe that it will continue to lose out in regional competition for the best
    teachers.

                 high-                               low-
4. The need for high-quality teachers is greatest in low-wealth and rural communities, but
         communities
   these communities cannot compete with wealthier communities in the labor market for
   teachers if the state funding mechanism does not offset their competitive disadvantage in
   local wealth.

    Teacher quality is the one variable that can have the greatest impact on raising
    the performance of low-income students and closing the achievement gap. See
    C. Jencks & M. Phillips, supra (1998). Yet, as the trial court found, the children
    in Arkansas who need the best teachers, instead, end up with teachers that
    receive the lowest pay. Trial Ct. Decision, Finding 119.

    Variations in local property wealth lead to wide disparities in teacher pay and
    quality among school districts across the state. These variations are significant.
    For example, the Arkansas Department of Education reports that the average
    annual salary for teachers in the Fayetteville School District is $42,098, while the
    average teacher salary in rural and low-wealth Lake View School District is
    $25,775--a $16,323 difference. Arkansas Dept. of Education, 1999-2000
    Rankings of Arkansas School Districts (2001). As the trial court pointed out, this
    type of disparity is so large that it "destabilizes" the entire state education
    system. Rural counties with lower supplements lose to the neighboring school
    systems or states that can pay more. Trial Ct. Decision, Findings 113-123.

    Low pay and inadequate funding lead to another critical problem--teachers
    teaching without certification or out of their field. As an example of this
    problem, the trial court cited the situation in low-wealth Lake View School
    District where an uncertified substitute teacher teaches all of the high school




                                            16
    mathematics courses. To supplement his annual salary of $10,000, he also drives
    a school bus. Circumstances like these have a direct impact on student learning.
    Trial Ct. Decision, Finding 118. One study of the impact of teacher certification
    found that students taught by teachers certified in mathematics achieved at far
    higher levels than students taught by non-certified math teachers. See P. Hawk,
    C. Coble & Swanson, Certification: It Does Matter, 36 Journal of Teacher
    Education, pp. 13-15 (May-June 1985). Children wanting to learn even basic
    math at schools like Lake View are being denied an equal opportunity to do so
    because they lack a qualified math teacher.

                                                                    high-
5. Rural schools face unique challenges in recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers.

    Conditions facing rural teachers differ from those in urban areas. A leading cause
    of rural teacher attrition is the social, cultural, and professional isolation they face
    in rural communities. Isolation means that many rural teachers have a difficult
    time maintaining professional relationships with other teachers. Moreover,
    younger teachers who have been recruited to teach in a rural school often feel
    cut off from distant family, friends and social activities. Faced with these factors
    and lower pay, teachers frequently leave rural schools or do not choose to come
    at all. Rather than viewing this as an intractable problem, some states have
    squarely faced recruiting and retaining teachers in their rural communities by
    offering differential pay scales, placement services, scholarships, loan forgiveness
    programs, and subsidies for housing. Regrettably, Arkansas has done very little
    in this regard. See Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools, T.
    Collins, Attracting and Retaining Teachers in Rural Areas, EDO-RC-99-7
    (1999).

                                          well-
6. Courts have found highly qualified and well-paid teachers to be a necessary component of
                     opportunity.
   equal educational opportunity.

    The trial court's findings and conclusions are supported by the decisions in
    several other Courts. In Tennessee Small School Systems v. McWherter, 851
    S.W.2d 139 (Tenn. 1993), the court concluded that “[t]eachers, obviously, are
    the most important component of any education plan or system, and
    compensation is, at least, a significant factor determining a teacher's place of
    employment." Moreover, the trial court's conclusion that disparities in teacher
    pay among school districts violate equal protection principles is in accord with
    the overwhelming consensus of other courts examining educational equity issues.
    For example, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded: "High-spending
    schools have educational advantages over low-spending schools; better qualified
    and trained teachers as well as in-service training of staff, better equipment, and




                                           17
       adequate facilities that are not overcrowded. The higher revenues in wealthy
       districts translate into more staff, better teacher-pupil ratios and programs, and
       adequate supplies. Greater funding means that schools do more things
       educationally, and do them better." Bismark Pub. Sch. Dist. No. 1 v. State,
       supra, 511 N.W.2d 247, 262. See also Robinson v. Cahill, 18 N.J. Super. 223,
       249, 287 A.2d 187, 200 (N.J. 1972); Horton v. Meskill, 172 Conn. 615, 634-
       35, 376 A.2d 359, 368 (1977); State v. Campbell County Sch. Dist., 19 P.3d
       518, 549 (Wy. 2001); DeRolph v. State, 89 Ohio 3d 1, 728 N.E.2d 993 (Ohio
       2000).

                      low-
B. Students attending low-wealth schools are being denied equal educational opportunity because
                                                                educational
   Arkansas' school finance system does not ensure that they have access to adequate school
   facilities.

   Schools and the classrooms within them are where learning takes place. They are the
   places where students read, write, listen, explore and interact with teachers and
   other students. Children cannot learn effectively in schools that have inadequate
   heating or air conditioning, falling and leaking roofs, broken and missing windows,
   deteriorating floors, dangerous electrical systems, and asbestos. Yet, the trial court
   found that these and many other deplorable conditions currently exist in many
   Arkansas schools, thereby affecting the ability of children to learn. Trial Ct.
   Decision, Findings 35-43. These inequities are even more of a reflection of wealth
   disparities than are school operating expenditures because the state spends far less on
   aid for capital investment than it does for operating expenses.

   A body of education research has concluded that there is a correlation between
   school facilities and academic achievement. There is also evidence suggesting that
   facility conditions may have a stronger effect on student performance than the
   combined influences of family background, socioeconomic status, school
   attendance, and behavior. T.C. Chan, Environmental Impact on Student Learning,
   ERIC Clearinghouse, Doc. No. 406722 (1996); L. Morgan, Where Children Learn:
   Facilities Conditions and Student Test Performance in Milwaukee Public Schools,
   Presentation to Council of Educational Facility Planners International, Scottsdale,
   Ariz. (2000).

   The trial court's findings and conclusions regarding the importance of school
   facilities are firmly buttressed by decisions of other courts that have considered
   school finance challenges. See, e.g., Abbott v. Burke, 149 N.J. 145, 186, 693 A.2d
   417, 437 (N.J. 1997) ("[T]he condition of school facilities always has been of
   constitutional import. Deteriorating physical facilities relate to the state's
   educational obligation, and we continually have noted that adequate physical




                                            18
   facilities are an essential component of that constitutional mandate."); DeRolph v.
   State, 78 Ohio St. 3d 193, 213, 677 N.E.2d 733, 747 (1997) ("A thorough and
   efficient system of common schools includes facilities in good repair."); Campbell
   County School District v. State, 907 P.2d 1238, 1275 (Wy. 1995) ("[D]eficient
   physical facilities deprive students of an equal educational opportunity and any
   financing system that allows such deficient facilities to exist is unconstitutional.").
   See also Roosevelt v. Bishop, 179 Ariz. 233, 242, 877 P.2d 806, 815 n. 7 (1994);
   Rose v. Council for Better Educ., 790 S.W.2d 186, 198 (Ky. 1989); Pauley v.
   Bailey, 162 W. Va. 672, 706, 255 S.E.2d 859, 877 (W.Va. 1979).

C. Students in many rural low-wealth schools are being denied an equal opportunity to learn
                           low-
   because they do not have access to a challenging curriculum.

   Access to a rich and challenging curriculum, including advanced placement courses,
   is critically important to a child's education. Research has shown a strong
   relationship between student achievement and the level of difficulty of a school’s
   curriculum and courses. For both college-bound and non-college-bound students,
   researchers have found that test scores increase more for students taking advanced
   courses than for students who do not take advanced courses. Studies have also
   shown that students who take advanced and enriched coursework in high school are
   more likely to enroll in college and succeed beyond college. C. Adelman, U.S. Dept.
   of Educ., Answers in the Tool Box: Academic Intensity, Attendance Patterns, and
   Bachelor's Degree Attainment (1999); L. Hone and A.M. Nunez, National Center
   for Education Statistics, Mapping the Road to College First-Generation Students
   Math Track. Planning Strategies and Context for Support, Wash, D.C. (2000).

   Regrettably, children in many low-wealth school districts are being denied an equal
   opportunity to learn because the schools they attend do not have the resources
   needed to offer them more challenging and enriched courses. The trial court cited
   Holly Grove, a small and rural school district in eastern Arkansas, as an example of a
   typical low-wealth district that is not able to offer its students any advanced courses
   or programs. In contrast, higher wealth school districts are positioned to offer a
   wide array of challenging and enriched courses including gifted and talented
   programs, honors courses, advanced placement courses and multiple foreign
   language courses. Trial Ct. Decision, Findings 27-34.

   This disparity in curriculum affects the willingness and ability of many poor students
   to enter college. Without the necessary course work, rural students often believe
   that they will be unable to accept the rigors of a challenging college curriculum. The
   affect of fewer course offerings is also reflected in the fact that 58% of Arkansas
   students entering college as freshmen must take at least one remedial course in



                                          19
      either math or English to begin their college careers. Lower Ct. Decision, Finding
      102.

      Courts in other jurisdictions have recognized the importance of curriculum to a
      child's education. In DeRolph v. State of Ohio, 78 Ohio St. 3d 193, 208, 677
      N.E.2d 733 (1997), the Ohio Supreme Court pointed to the curriculum in low-
      wealth school districts as being “severely limited compared to other school districts
      and compared to what might be expected of a system designed to educate Ohio's
      youth and prepare them for a bright and prosperous future." In the court's view, the
      lack of an honors program or advanced placement programs had the effect of
      disqualifying many students from scholarships or from entering certain colleges. Id.
      at 208, 677 N.E. 2d at 744. See also Horton v. Meskill, supra, 172 Conn. at 634,
      376 A.2d at 368 (1977) (course offerings are one criterion for measuring overall
      quality of education).


                                                  HIGH-
VII. SMALL RURAL SCHOOLS ARE A KEY COMPONENT OF A HIGH-QUALITY EDUCATION.

   A. Small schools have been shown to significantly benefit student achievement, especially among
      poor and minority students.

      As noted previously, rural schools frequently have small student enrolments because
      of population sparseness or community choice. Recently, researchers looked at
      student achievement in seven states--Alaska, California, Georgia, Texas, Ohio,
      Montana, and West Virginia--to determine the relationship between school size and
      student achievement. The studies in this line of inquiry revealed that smaller schools
      significantly benefit the achievement of students, especially poor and minority
      students as compared to similar students attending larger schools. Moreover, the
      studies found that the lower the income in a community, the more student
      achievement is benefited by smaller schools. C. B. Howley & R. Bicker, The
      Mathew Project: National Report, Rural School and Community Trust, Randolph,
      Vt., ERIC No. 433174 (1999).

                                          low-
   B. A recent Arkansas study found that low-income students who attend smaller schools achieve at
      higher levels than students attending larger schools.

      A new study of school size extends the above research to Arkansas. Results from this
      study are remarkably consistent with the results of the previous studies, concluding
      that small schools and small school districts in Arkansas substantially reduce the
      powerful negative effects of poverty on student achievement as compared with larger
      schools and districts. Like the studies in other states, the Arkansas research




                                               20
   concludes that the higher the level of poverty in a community, the more positive the
   effect of smaller schools and school districts on student achievement. In the
   Arkansas study, 28 separate analyses were performed using scores over three years
   from the Stanford Achievement Test and over two years from Arkansas' own
   Benchmark Tests in literacy and math. In each instance, the correlation between
   student achievement and poverty was much weaker in the smaller schools or districts
   than in the larger ones. The positive effect of small districts appears even stronger
   than the positive effect of small schools. According to the study, smaller schools, on
   average, reduce poverty's powerful negative effect over achievement by about one
   third to one half in Arkansas. But smaller districts on average cut poverty's power
   even more, by one half to three fourths. C. B. Howley, A. A. Howley & J. Johnson,
   Size, Excellence, and Equity in Arkansas Schools: A Matthew Replication. Ohio
   Univ. College of Educ., Educational Studies Dept., Athens, Oh. (forthcoming).

C. Small rural schools offer many other benefits to students and communities.

   Frequently, what small rural schools lack in financial resources is offset by a
   supportive atmosphere which creates a sense of belonging for students. With
   adequate resources, small schools are able to offer students greater opportunities for
   extracurricular activities than are larger urban and suburban schools. Research has
   shown that students who attend small schools present fewer behavior problems,
   have higher attendance levels, and are more likely to graduate from high school.
   Parents of students attending small rural schools are also more likely to be involved
   and concerned with their child's education. See K. Cotton, School Size, School
   Climate, and Student Performance, Office of Educ. Research and Improvement,
   ERIC Document No. ED397476 (1996).

   In addition to their education benefits, small rural schools are critically important to
   rural communities. Unlike small communities without schools, recent research in
   rural New York State concluded that a small community with a school is likely to be
   more stable and more prosperous, with more people employed close to home in
   decision-making jobs. T. Lyson, What Does a School Mean to a Community?
   Assessing the Social and Economic Benefits of Schools to Rural Villages in New
   York, Department of Rural Sociology, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, N.Y. (2001). As rural
   communities struggle to survive, preserving small and rural schools may be among
   the best economic development strategies available to revitalize rural communities.




                                             21
                                                                          component      high-
D. The benefits of small schools have been judicially recognized as a key component of a high-
   quality education.

   In Campbell v. State, supra, the Wyoming Supreme Court concluded: “An equal
   opportunity for a proper education necessarily contemplates the playing field will be
   leveled so each child has an equal chance for educational success. Our children’s
   readiness to learn is impacted by social ills, learning deficiencies and a system itself
   which forces them into large classes or large schools." Moreover, the court
   concluded, the state must provide a "proper" educational package that "each
   Wyoming student is entitled to have whether she lives in Laramie or in Sundance."
   In the court's view that package includes "small schools." Id. 907 P.2d at 1278-79.

                                                                          disadvantaged
E. Closing or consolidating small rural schools would fundamentally harm disadvantaged students,
   would not be cost effective, and would deny students equal educational opportunity.

   Offering children in small and rural communities access to the components of a
   high-quality education--better teachers, safe and decent school facilities, and an
   advanced curriculum--should not be accomplished through the closure or
   consolidation of their schools. Because small schools offer a number of educational
   advantages to poor and minority students, the state's system for funding education
   must ensure the viability of these schools. Providing equal educational opportunity
   for rural students need not come at a significantly higher cost. New technology and
   distance learning programs offer many relatively inexpensive ways to ensure that
   rural students have equal educational opportunities. The Internet or a satellite dish
   with interactive video communications can make any room the functional equivalent
   of a classroom in a larger high school. Moreover, a slightly higher annual per-pupil
   operating cost of small schools has been shown to be largely offset by their higher
   rate of graduating students. Nebraska Alliance for Rural Education, Center for Rural
   Affairs, P. Funk, & J. Bailey, Nebraska High School Completion and Postsecondary
   Enrollment Rates by Size of School District (1999).

   The advantages of small rural schools, coupled with the tremendous economic and
   social losses that would be experienced by rural communities if they were to close,
   strongly suggest that the state's school finance system should support the one
   element in the education system that is working for disadvantaged students, namely
   their small schools.




                                            22
                              CONCLUSION
For the foregoing reasons, the trial court's decision should be affirmed.


                                    Respectfully submitted,

                                    Kaplan, Brewer, Maxey & Haralson, P.A.
                                    415 Main Street
                                    Little Rock, AR 72201
                                    (501) 372-0400


                                    _________________________________
                                    Regina Haralson (93020)




                                      23

								
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