Requiring the State Provide a “High Quality Education”

H.3110 proposes a constitutional amendment which would require that the General Assembly provide a “high quality education allowing each student to reach his highest potential.” Currently the constitution only requires that the General Assembly provide a system of free public schools but a 1999 decision by the State Supreme Court interpreted this provision to mean the state must provide children a “minimally adequate education.” This decision was in turn used in support of another decision earlier this year which found the state was failing to provide this minimally adequate education. The State Supreme Court strongly hinted the state must increase school funding (among other reforms) in order to meets its obligation.

The lesson here is this. The Court’s finding of an obligation to provide a minimally adequate education has already resulted in judicial overreach and a likely forceful imposition of policies (increased funding) unlikely to improve student achievement. We can only imagine the damage that could be done by constitutionally requiring a “high quality education”.

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