Among the nine revisions proposed to Florida voters by the Constitution Revision Commission in 1998, Revision 6 fundamentally enhanced Florida's responsibility for public education. Revision 6 amended Article IX, Section 1, of the Florida Constitution, which sets forth the State's duty to provide for public education. Entitled “PUBLIC EDUCATION OF CHILDREN,” Revision 6 makes a declaration of the relative importance of education to the people of Florida, and describes as “paramount” the duty of the state to adequately provide for education. Revision 6 goes on to detail and raise the constitutional standard for what constitutes “adequate provision” for public education, and obliges the state to deliver a high quality education to its children.
This Article will attempt to place Florida's recent education amendment into context, briefly examining both the development of education finance litigation in Florida and the recent waves of education finance litigation nationwide. By successfully revising its constitutional language, Florida has uniquely modified the ongoing discussion about the adequacy of state support for education. By providing specific standards for adequacy, the Constitution Revision Commission has invited greater court supervision of the Legislature's role in education funding and has guaranteed that future litigation will determine whether the state currently meets its duty to make “adequate provision” for public education. Ironically, both proponents and opponents argued that the change will provide a standard for litigation. The Constitution Revision Commission's clear goal was to increase the state's constitutional duty and raise the constitutional standard for adequate education, and in fact to make the standard high quality. It remains to be seen how the challenge of providing a sound basic education for Florida's children will be met.