Elizabeth Smith, Ph.D., is the planning director for the Yale National Initiative at the University of Tulsa, a partnership between TU, Tulsa Public Schools, and Yale University to strengthen teaching in Tulsa schools.
“The Legislature shall establish and maintain a system of free public schools wherein all the children of the State may be educated. … The Legislature shall, by appropriate legislation, raise appropriate funds for the annual support of the common schools of the State…”
The Oklahoma State Constitution, Article 13
An Oklahoma native, I moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas in 2001 to attend the University of Arkansas. I transitioned from being a student to a resident of Arkansas and began a career in higher education which included research on PreK-12 schools. Studying school funding in Arkansas, I investigated the transformation that took place in statewide education following Lake View School District no. 25 v. Huckabee, one in a series of Arkansas Supreme Court decisions that contributed to an overhaul of the school funding system. Moving back to Oklahoma in 2015, colleagues have frequently asked me, “Why are Arkansas schools funded so much better than Oklahoma schools?” My short answer is always: “Lake View.” Yes, this is an oversimplification considering that Arkansas and Oklahoma are very different in terms of population, major industries, and history. However, Lake View was the turning point for school funding in Arkansas, and similar cases have been turning points in many other states.
continue reading Using lawsuits to fund our schools: Is it time to try again? (Guest post: Elizabeth Smith)