Alaska spends enough money on schools to meet constitutional standards, an Anchorage judge ruled Thursday.
However, the state fails to adequately supervise local school districts to insure they do their job properly, said Superior Court Judge Sharon Gleason. Therefore, it is violating some high school students' rights by requiring that they pass a state exit exam to get a diploma, Gleason said in a split decision in the Moore v. Alaska school funding lawsuit. There are schools “that are not according to children a meaningful opportunity to acquire proficiency in the subject areas tested by the state,” Gleason wrote, in her decision.
“It is fundamentally unfair for this state to hold students accountable for failing this exam when some students in the state have not been accorded a meaningful opportunity to learn the material on the exam.”
In her ruling, Gleason gives the state a year to “address the issues” and report back to her.
The Moore v. Alaska trial unfolded last October in Gleason’s sixth-floor courtroom. The lawsuit -- the first of its kind in Alaska -- charged that the state has shortchanged Alaska schools for decades and cheats children of the education promised to them by the state constitution.
The case is the first of its kind here. But nationwide, and for decades, dozens of similar lawsuits have argued that public schools aren’t funded well enough to properly educate kids. Many of those cases have won hundreds of millions in increased budget dollars for public schools, but opinions are mixed about whether that’s resulted in improvements inside the classroom.