The same KansasLiberty article I addressed yesterday also included the following quote:
“The court’s only evidence was a discredited school audit that had been dismissed by the Legislature, which had commissioned it, as impractical and dangerously expensive. The audit’s figures had been compiled by asking school administrators how much money they would like to receive to achieve a range of outcomes.”
Wow… that’s one twisted interpretation. While the Augenblick report was far from stellar research by any stretch, it was, as you note the report that had been commissioned by the legislature. It was pursued on recommendation from a Governor’s Task Force (which also included legislators). Further, the charge of the report was specifically linked to the constitutional language which had also been referenced in the Task Force recommendation. And while the report had been shelved by the legislature, they never criticized it openly until after the case went against them in the lower court. It had not been discredited by legislators when the case went to trial and it was not discredited by any of the experts at trial.
Most of the evidence cited by Judge Bullock as basis for determining the constitutionality of the school finance system was unrelated to the Augenblick study. It was evidence related to disparities in funding across districts, which harmed certain populations and were associated with large persistent disparities in educational outcomes. The Augenblick study was cited primarily as an option for achieving constitutionality – a guideline – the legislature’s own guideline – one possible guideline for achieving constitutionality. It was the only one on the table. Would you have preferred the Judge to make up his own? Seems logical and fair to use the legislature’s own target.
Further, when the legislature was granted a do-over in 2006 by the Supreme Court, they commissioned two additional studies overseen by the Division of Post Audit. From these studies they got roughly the same answer they had gotten previously, and once again chose to ignore the findings.
Eventually, the court let them off the hook after a modest (and still inequitable) infusion of some additional funding, dismissing the case while leaving open the question of whether the system is actually constitutional.
For a thorough review see: