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CLARK’S PRELIMINARY decision was announced at the end of April. His formal decision, including guidelines for measuring an acceptable school finance system, is ‘yet to come. Legislators, who must devise an acceptable system, possibly in the 1989 regular session, believe they face three equally unattractive options: 1.If You Like Redistricting, You’ll Love This: In this scenario, all school district boundaries in Texas’ would be redrawn somehow to insure equal access to property tax wealth. Some dismiss discussion along these lines as a scare tactic or red herring designed to foment political opposition to upholding the Clark decision. In order to make high value property available to poor districts, there would have to be some pretty strangely shaped districts, since almost every South Texas district .would need a “sister’? district in the North. 2.You Can Have My Property Taxes When You Take Them From My Cold, Dead Fingers: Sometimes known as the “Extreme Robin Hood” approach. this involves actually taking money from rich districts and giving it to poor ones. On a less extreme level, it could involve diverting inore state aid away from . wealthy districts toward poor ones, leaving overall total dollars the same. 3. Blood From A Turnip: Under this alternative, the state simply kicks in more money for poor districts, until they are raised to the level of the rich ones. This solution seems to make more sense than the other two. But to do this, we’re going to have to prove the governor was swapping SMU football players for Tammy Bakker because we’re talking big time tax increases here. Speculation has centered around the redrawing of school district boundary lines because the judge led his list of findings with the fact that Texas “did not follow any rational or articulated policy” in setting up school districts. “There is no underlying rationale in the district boundaries. . . ” Some legislators thought the decision invalidated district boundaries along with the finance system, but Kauffman said that was incorrect. What the judge is saying is that the district boundaries “are not sufficient reason for the disparity” in money provided for education, Kauffman said. Assistant attorney general Jim Todd explained that “Texas courts will only find a system unconstitutional if it is utterly irrational and nothing can be found to justify it.” For Clark to find the finance system unconstitutional, he had to find that “there was no compelling state interest, no valid purpose for the discrepancy to arise. Finding no coherent state policy behind the drawing of the boundary lines is a key element in the Clark decision, right alongside the finding that eductaion is not just an ordinary, every day right, but a fundamental constitutional right. Both findings will be major issues in the appeal. State leaders looking for a silver lining said the Edgelt;ood decision is a good argument against cuts in education spending at this time. Hobby said it would be a big mistake to retreat on adequate financing for the schools, or “to take any step that would further jeopardize our case on appeal.” Senate education committee chief Carl Parker said he did not agree with Clark’s conclusions, but “I do not quarrel a whole lot with his findings of fact. I do not think we have met our moral and intellectual responsibilities toward education in this state. The poor districts strain more than the rich and some of them are maxed out.” If the state cuts back on education spending now, that will put even more strain on local property taxes “and that exacerbates the problem,” Parker said. Parker was asked whether the end result of the Clark decision is that the state will simply have to spend a bigger bundle on education. “As you know, I have always advocated a bigger bundle,” Parker replied. As the big districts squeal and the legislature moans and the word “disaster” crops up in the headlines, it is important to keep in mind the argument that found favor in Judge Clark’s court: “The theme of this case was Tor the Sake of the Children’,” Kauffman declared. “This case will mean a lot to the kids in the low-wealth districts. Not next year, but soon, they really will have access to equal education, more access to funds and more access to programs. I think it will be very good for them.” ..0 Amarillo WHEN SEVEN protesters blocked the entrance to the Pantex nuclear weapons plant last August, their symbolic stand against nuclear war irritated local authorities. For years, police here had tolerated annual tent-city demonstrations at the Pantex main gate. But the sit-in was part of a careful escalation of civil disobedience and authorities viewed it as a direct challenge. And so the case of the “Pantex Terry FitzPatrick is a television reporter in Amarillo. Seven’l quickly became more than a case of seven people who blocked a remote Texas roadway. It became a showdown between peace activists and the local law. That’s why three Houston men spent 24 days in April behind bars. And the protesters called attention to their case by going on a hunger strike during their time in jail. Jimi Clark, Greg LeRoy and Charles Perez were arrested with four other protesters August 10, 1986, and charged with blocking the public roadway outside the Pantex Plant at shift change. The misdemeanor offense carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail and $1000 fine. The protest was de signed, in part, to create a for the belief that preventing workers from building nuclear bombs is justified under international law and is an act that justifies minor infractions like blocking a road. Authorities disagreed. “We would argue and defend their constitutional right to protest and their constitutional right to take a stand,” said Carson County Attorney Ed Hinshaw. “But when they begin to block the roadways of this county, then it’s a crime. If they want to make their protest, then they’re going to have to do it in a way that does not impose upon the citizens of the state of Texas.” Hinshaw promised to block a socalled justification defense by the Pantex Seven, and Carson County Judge Jay Roselius said he would not allow his courtroom to become a forum on American military policy. “I’m strictly trying a blocking , the roadway case,” Roselius said. “All that other stuff is out the window.” Defense lawyer Tim Hoffman advised his seven clients to seek a plea bargain A Hunger Strike in Amarillo By Terry FitzPatrick 8 MAY 15, 1987