It would be difficult to name a public-policy movement more ignorant — and potentially destructive — than the sue-for-higher-school-spending crusade. That’s why New Mexicans must keep close watch on the trial now underway over the consolidation of Yazzie v. New Mexico and Martinez v. New Mexico.
The cases, filed in 2014 by the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty and Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, allege that taxpayers don’t spend enough to ensure that “every single school-age child [is] provided with a sufficient and uniform public education.”
Some important facts to keep in mind as the trial proceeds:
● There is zero connection between school expenditures and student performance.
● New Mexico spends more than its neighbors on government schools. (Thirty percent more than Utah, where pupil proficiencies are stellar.)
● The “fairness” and “equalization” dreams of the educrat lobby have essentially been attained in New Mexico — just a few states surpass the Land of Enchantment in posting the lowest share of K-12 spending covered by local taxpayers.
● Policy by lawsuits, rather than legislation, is poor — and unaccountable — policy. As Walter Olson of the Cato Institute noted: “[M]odern school-finance litigation only poses as being about educational quality. Its deeper mission is control — specifically, transferring control over spending from voters and their representatives to litigators whose loyalty is to a mix of ideologues and interest groups sharing a wish for higher spending.”