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Colorado judge rules against state's school funding model

December 12, 2011
Education Week
Funding and school performance strongly linked, says Linda Darling-Hammond.
Sean Cavanagh

In one of the nation's most closely watched school finance cases, a Colorado district court judge has ruled that the state's system for funding schools is "irrational" and "divorced from the reality" of the state's constitution, whose requirements it fails to meet.

In a strongly worded, 183-page opinion issued Friday, Judge Sheila Rappaport concluded that Colorado's school funding model has been "completely unresponsive" to mounting and costly academic mandates placed on schools.

The state's attorney general, elected Republican John W. Suthers, will consult with Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper on a response to the ruling, said a spokeman for the attorney general, Mike Saccone. But the two state officials have been on the same page regarding the lawsuit, and an appeal of the judge's ruling is likely, Saccone said.

School funding decisions are "best left to the General Assembly and the governor," the AG spokesman said. "It was clearly very tempting for the court to [step] into this public policy debate, and that's what the court did."