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TEXAST SERvER B The Texas Observer Publishing Co,. 1984 Ronnie Dugger, Publisher Vol. 76, No. 11 74M> June 1, 1984 Incorporating the State Observer and the East Texas Democrat, which in turn incorporated the Austin Forum-Advocate, EDITOR Geoffrey Rips ASSOCIATE EDITOR Dave Denison EDITOR AT LARGE Ronnie Dugger CAREY McWILLIAMS FELLOW: Nina Butts CALENDAR: Chula Sims WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: AI Watkins LAYOUT AND DESIGN: Alicia Daniel EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Frances Barton, Austin.; Elroy Bode, Kerrville; Chandler Davidson, Houston; Bob Eckhardt, Washington, D.C.: Sissy bridge, Mass.; Lawrence Goodwyn. Durham, N.C.: George Hendrick, Urbana, Ill.; Molly Ivins, Dallas; Larry L. King, Washington. D.C.: Maury Maverick, Jr., San Antonio; Willie Morris, Oxford, Miss.; Kaye Northcott, Austin; James , Fred Schmidt, Tehachapi, Cal., Robert Sherrill, Tallahassee, Fla. CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Warren Burnett, Nina Butts, Jo Clifton, Craig Clifford, John Henry Faulk, Ed Garcia, Bill Helmer, Jack Hopper, Amy Johnson, Laurence Jolidon, Mary Lenz, Matt Lyon, Greg Moses, Rick Piltz, Susan Raleigh, Paul Sweeney. Michael Ventura, Lawrence Walsh. CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS: Alan Pogue, Russell Lee, Scott Van Osdol. CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS: Jeff Danziger, Beth Epstein, Dan Hubig, Kevin Krenek, Ben Sargent, Gail Woods. A journal free of voices We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. We are dedicated to the whole truth, to human values above all interests. to the rights of humankind as the foundation of democracy; we will take orders from none but our own conscience, and never will we overlook or misrepresent the truth to serve the interests of the powerful or cater to the ignoble in the human spirit. Writers are responsible for their own work, but not for anything they have not themselves written, and in publishing them we do not necessarily imply that we agree with them because this is a journal of free voices. Business Manager Frances Barton Assistant Alicia Daniel Advertising, Special Projects Cliff Olofson Editorial and Business Office 600 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701 The Texas Observer at Austin. Texas. $20: two years, S38; three years. $56. One year rate for full-time students. $13. Airmail, foreign, group, and bulk rates on request. Microfilm editions available from University Microfilms Intl., 300 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor. Michigan 48106. Copyright 1984 by Texas Observer Publishing Company. All rights reserved_ Material may not be reproduced without permission. POSTMASTER: Send form 3579 to: 600 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. 2 JUNE 1, 1984 PAGE TWO A Class Struggle Austin THE LONG FIGHT of Demetrio Rodriguez continues. Sixteen years after he first filed suit in federal court in an effort to force the state to provide equal education for his children, Rodriguez is once again a plaintiff in a lawsuit “to require the State to make permanent changes in the system of financing public schools in the State in order to conform the State’s financing system to the dictates of the State Constitution. . . .” “In the last twelve years,” Rodriguez told a May 23 press conference in the Capitol, “we’ve had promises of governors that they will address the problem of school finance in the legislature or in special sessions. We don’t believe it will come in a special session. . . . We’ve been asked to give the legislature a chance by Briscoe and by Clements. . . . What is required is a restructuring of the school finance system not a bandaid.” The choice confronting Governor Mark White and the legislature this summer is the choice between a complete overhaul of the school finance system and a balm that will provide a few more dollars for poorer districts but will perpetuate inequities among school districts that will grow more pronounced with the years. According to the argument presented in the lawsuit in which Rodriguez is a plaintiff \(Edgewood I. S. D. the wealthiest school district in the state has over $12 million in property wealth per student while the Edgewood Independent School District in San Antonio, the second poorest, has $22,000 in property wealth per student. The plaintiffs, including eight Texas school districts, contend that the one million students in the . state’s poorest districts attend schools drawing on 16 % of the state’s property wealth while the one million students in the wealthiest districts go to schools that can draw on 64 % of the property wealth of the state. The school taxpayer in a wealthy district would, then, be taxed at a far lower rate than the taxpayer in a property-poor district in order to come up with the same tax revenues. But the wealthier districts, of course, do not tax at infinitesimal rates in order to provide the same local tax revenue as poorer districts. Instead, they tax at significantly lower rates than poor districts and come up with phenomenally higher revenues with which to operate. Iraan-Sheffield, the district with the second highest wealth per pupil ratio in the state, has 460 times the property wealth per student that Edgewood has. Its tax rate for maintenance and operation and building costs is one-twentieth that of Edgewood’s, yielding $5,633 in local enrichment money per pupil \(ADA at twenty times the Iraan-Sheffield rate, yielded $41 per pupil in 1982-1983. Under the current state equalization formula, Edgewood received $1,601 in state money per student, compared to Iraan-Sheffield’s $487 in state support. This provided Iraan-Sheffield with $6,120 per pupil and Edgewood