Two decades after voters approved a constitutional amendment that called for a “high quality” system of public schools, the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday took up a legal battle about whether the state has properly carried out voters’ wishes.

An attorney for the group Citizens for Strong Schools asked the Supreme Court to overturn a decision by the 1st District Court of Appeal that rejected the lawsuit. Attorney Jodi Siegel said the case should be sent back to a circuit judge to apply standards that would properly determine whether the state is meeting the constitutional requirements.

“We have current standards and current measurements that are showing significant disparities,” Siegel said. “We had 670,000 children that are failing reading. So this is not a child or two. This is a systemic failure.”

But Rocco Testani, an attorney for the state, argued that the Supreme Court should uphold the lower-court decision. Testani also said the state has made changes since 1998 that have led to significant improvements in the public-school system.

“It has been successful, it has worked,” Testani said. “It is not a system that anyone should be concerned is broken.”

The 1998 constitutional amendment said

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