A potentially far-reaching trial that will determine whether the Florida Legislature is shortchanging public schools is starting in a Tallahassee courtroom.

In the lawsuit filed six years ago, education groups and parents from Duval and Pasco counties contend the Legislature and state officials have not provided enough money to the state’s schools as required under a constitutional amendment passed in 1998.

They cite the academic performance of minorities and students from poor families as proof that the state is failing its children. The lawsuit is challenging Florida’s testing system set up under former Gov. Jeb Bush.

Attorneys for the state have disputed the plaintiffs’ contentions, but they have failed to get the case dismissed.

The non-jury trial could last as long as five weeks.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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