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IN OCTOBER OF 1989 Demetrio Ro driguez, who might be considered Texas’ Linda Brown, was celebrating. As a parentplaintiff in the original Texas school funding suit, the retired Kelly Air Force base sheetmetal worker thought he had won something. The federal Rodriguez lawsuit, with which he had signed on as the first plaintiff in 1968, had made it as far as the U.S Supreme Court, where it lost 5-4 in 1973. In May 1994, a similar suit styled Edgewood v. Kirby was filed in state district court in Texas. There the plaintiffs prevailed, proceeded through the Third Court of Appeals and on to the Texas Supreme Court. On the day I spoke to Ro , driguez in west San Antonio, the 9-0 verdict was posted on the marquee outside the Edgewood I.S.D. office. That was Edgewood I. On May 25 the Texas Supreme Court heard arguments on Edgewood IV. Several days earlier, Rodriguez had told the San Antonio ExpressNews that he Wouldn’t be participating in any events marking the 10th anniversary of the state lawsuit filed on May 23, 1994. “In 26 years, I think we should have done more,” Rodriguez said. “How many years did it take us to put a man on the moon?” Rodriguez complained that the Legislature has provided only “piecemeal legislation” toward the goal of equalizing education opportunity. In October of 1989; Rodriguez said it had been a leaking roof at the elementary school where one of his children attended that finally made him a plaintiff. In the rcent interview with, the Express -News, he said that at Perales Elementary, where his five children and two grandchildren attended school, students still attend classes in portable buildings. Funding is considerably higher than it was in 1963 or in 1984. But a history of underfunding means this generation of children will not see the full benefits of Edgewood I, II, III. “Even if funding was [available] for facilities,” Rodriguez said, “it’s going to take us about 10 years to catch up with the other districts.” In a brief conversation outside the Supreme Court chambers on May 25 Edgewood Superintendent Dolores . Munoz said the same thing. “We have 120 portables in the district,” she said. “Even with spending at $4,500 to $5,000 per student, we have to make up for years of neglect. And we’re not buying luxury items like auditoriums. We’re still trying to provide libraries, science labs, facilities for our special needs students, and some money for salaries, where we were just beginning to make some progress.” District Judge Scott McCown of Austin, who is presiding over the Edgewood case, has ruled that the current school-finance bill does not make adequate provision for facilities, but otherwise is constitutional. But during oral arguments before the court, Republican Justices Nathan Hecht, John Cornyn III and Craig Enoch seemed ready to reopen debate on issues resolved by the court in its unanimous 1989 decision. If, after the November 1994 election, a majority of justices agree with what these three seem to be thinking, the one step forward and two back described by Rodriguez and Mufioz will give way to a full retreat from equity in funding. “If the state can recapture taxes in excess of $280,000, what are the constitutional limits [that would stop the state] from recapturing all ad valorem taxes to fund a system,” Cornyn asked, suggesting that the mechanism that shifts funds from the very wealthy districts to the property-poor districts is a state property tax, which is unconstitutional. Enoch, who has a habit of thinking aloud on the benchwhich is not an altogether sound practice when one thinks like he does raised the old argument about a school district’s wealth belonging to the district alone. Which made Assistant Attorney General Toni Hunter sound like an Edgewood’s attorney, as she explained that a school district “is part of a state system. You are not here to rule on behalf of any school district. You’re here to look at a school system that educates all children, not to pit one school district against another.” Democratic Justice Raul Gonzalez seemed committed only to the theory of funding equity. “The voters rejected the CEDs \(county education districts, which could be used to tenant governor ran campaigns on no new taxes, so did the speaker. Given the demo cratic pressures on our elected officials,” Gonzalez asked, haven’t we gone as far as we can go in providing equity? Democratic Associate Justice Lloyd Doggett, who as an intellectual and moral leader on the court will not be replaced after he is elected to Congress in November, steered the debate back to basics, asking Bob Luna, an attorney for wealthy schools: “Your position is that under the. Texas Constitution, people who live in wealthy districts are simply entitled to more money than children in property-poor districts?” In a circumspect fashion, Luna answered ,…, THE TEXAS 11P server JUNE 3, 1994 VOLUME 86, No. 11 FEATURES Politics and Police Scanners Heat Up in Granite Shoals By Kim Young George Green: Whistling While He Waits Interview by Brett Campbell 7 Helen Caldicott and Nukes Interview by Louis Dubose 15 DEPARTMENTS Editorials Brown v. Edgewood Las Americas New Invasion of Puebla By John Ross 10 Molly Ivins How Now Brown v. Board 12 Jim Hightower Health Care Reform; Library Cuts; Tobacco Fits. 13 Books and the Culture Nuclear Madness Book review by Louis Dubose The Man Who Would Be God Book review by Tom McClellan Unequal Treatment Book review by Robert Sherrill P.O.V. Returns to PBS TV review by Steven G. Kellman 17 18 19 21 Afterword Divided By A River By Barbara Renaud Gonzalez 23 Political Intelligence 24 Cover photograph by Angela Hardin yes, citing a Supreme Court ruling that describes local money as “trust funds” for local children. Doggett’s question might be too dangerous to ask of the court that will , be seated in January 1995. The Edgewood plaintiffs are asking this court to overrule the current system, and suggesting remedies to make the system more equitable. The court should rule before the fall and a 9-0 ruling for the plaintiffs seems at best unlikely. Beyond that, the future does not look so promising. 1.D. EDITORIALS Edgewood IV THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3