ERIC Number: ED356552
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1993
Reference Count: N/A
School Finance Reform: The Role of the Courts. CPRE Finance Briefs.
Consortium for Policy Research in Education, New Brunswick, NJ.
Less than half of the challenges to unequal state school financing laws have succeeded. And among those challenges that were successful, funding equity has eroded over time and the litigation has been costly and protracted. However, judicial remedy is still a possible means for restoring equity in school financing and improving education. Most of the problems in school finance litigation were raised in the original Rodriguez opinion (San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez, 1973). In that case, the U.S. Supreme Court held 5-4 that disparities in educational spending due to local wealth are constitutionally allowed. The greater part of this research brief, which is based on an article by William H. Clare, evaluates the status of seven fundamental questions concerning school finance litigation and reform raised by this case. The questions are: Does increased spending improve education? How much increased spending is needed? Are local governments as capable as the state to set educational spending levels? Should revenue be redistributed from wealthy to poorer districts? Should the special educational needs of poor children be accommodated? What is the court's role in educational reform? and Is finance reform compatible with educational restructuring? The brief then presents a three-part remedy recommended for adoption by state courts. In basic terms, the three points are: (1) states should be required to establish a base program of substantially equal spending for at least 95 percent of its students; (2) the courts should require states to provide compensatory aid for disadvantaged children; and (3) the courts should require states to develop performance-oriented policies. The final sections of the brief offer a policy analysis and justification of the remedy, an explanation of how part of the remedy has developed recently in school finance litigation and legislative reform, and a consideration of selected examples of thoughtful courts and legislatures becoming more responsive to the practical needs of educational policy. A list of CPRE publications is included. (Contains 22 references.) (JPT)
Publication Type: Guides - Non-Classroom
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Consortium for Policy Research in Education, New Brunswick, NJ.
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Rodriguez v San Antonio Independent School District