School Funding Debate Comes Before The Texas Supreme Court04:08
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Patty Rodriguez and her brother, Alex, hold a photo of their late father Demetrio Rodriguez on Sunday, March 1, 2015 in San Antonio. (Bahram Mark Sobhani)
Patty Rodriguez and her brother, Alex, hold a photo of their late father Demetrio Rodriguez on Sunday, March 1, 2015 in San Antonio. (Bahram Mark Sobhani)
This article is more than 3 years old.

Across the country, school districts get their funding from property taxes. But the Texas Supreme Court will soon rule on a challenge to that system, which opponents say short-changes poor children and those whose parents don't speak English.

The case, which was brought by some 600 districts in the state, is just the latest incarnation of a protracted legal struggle in Texas. It began over 40 years ago, when a father named Demetrio Rodriguez became the first parent to sign a class action lawsuit demanding equal school funding for his children. The case made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, but a 5-4 decision ultimately held there was no federal right to equal funding.

Rodriguez's daughter Patty now teaches in the same majority-poor and majority-Hispanic school district where her late father filed suit. She holds out hope that the current case against the state will settle the question of fair funding in Texas.

“You can’t deny education to a person. It’s discrimination. I would think that not one group of people would have a better education than another,” she told Houston Public Media's education reporter Laura Isensee.

This story is part of the NPR reporting project School Money, a nationwide collaboration between NPR's Ed Team and 20 member station reporters exploring how states pay for their public schools and why many are failing to meet the needs of their most vulnerable students. Join the conversation on Twitter by using #SchoolMoney.

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This segment aired on April 19, 2016.

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