Editorial: Alabama Property Tax

The ruling is in and Alabama's current property tax system does not unconstitutionally discriminate against black and poor schoolchildren.  So says U.S. District Judge Lynwood Smith in an 854-page ruling.  Judge Smith said there are flaws in the current approach to funding schools, but the plaintiffs did not prove that the system violates children's civil rights or the constitution's equal protection clause.

This case was brought about by a group of parents who alleged in the lawsuit that their children attending school in two rural counties receive an inadequate education because of the state's low property taxes. Judge Smith didn't disagree with this point and I quote, "The children of the rural poor, whether black or white, are left to struggle as best as they can in under funded, dilapidated schools.  Their resulting lack of an adequate education not only deprives those students of a fair opportunity to prepare themselves to compete in a global economy, but also deprives the state of fully participating, well-educated adult citizens."

So – we Alabamians have won the argument that our property tax system is constitutional. That is good thing.  What isn't good and needs continued attention and debate is the correlation between low property taxes, woefully under funded schools and the resulting lack of a strong education for our children. I'd like to see an 854-page report on solutions to this problem.

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