The public schools enroll 866,000 students: 41% White, 35% African American, and 14% Latino, with 44% living in poverty and 6% learning English. The State spends $14,086 per pupil. (Most recent NCES data)
“The General Assembly …shall by Law establish throughout the State a thorough and efficient System of Free Public Schools; and shall provide by taxation, or otherwise, for their maintenance.” Md. Const. art. VIII, § 1.
“The School Fund of the State shall be kept inviolate, and appropriated only to the purposes of Education.” Md. Const. art. VIII, § 3.
In 1983, in the equal protection Hornbeck v. Somerset County Board of Educ. case, the Maryland Court of Appeals, the State’s highest court, held that “the ‘thorough and efficient’ language of § 1 does not mandate uniformity in per pupil funding and expenditures among the State's school districts,…the legislature is commanded by § 1 to establish such a system, effective in all school districts, as will provide the State's youth with a basic public school education.”
The Court also wrote that the State has a responsibility to make efforts “to minimize the impact of undeniable and inevitable demographic and environmental disadvantages on any given child.” The Court noted that plaintiffs had not brought an adequacy claim.
In 1994, in Bradford v. Maryland State Board of Educ., parents and students in the Baltimore City school district alleged that the State failed to provide resources sufficient to enable Baltimore Public Schools to meet contemporary education standards. Before trial, the parties settled and entered into a Consent Decree.