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Twenty-Five Years After Rodriguez: What Have We Learned?

by William S. Koski & Henry M. Levin - 2000

Twenty-five years ago, the landmark Supreme Court decision in San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez effectively closed the door on educational finance equity litigation in the federal courts. In that case, the high court ruled that despite the glaring disparity in funding between school districts in the San Antonio metropolitan area, the United States Constitution does not require that funding among school districts be equalized. Rodriguez was hardly the last word in school finance litigation, however, as educational finance reform advocates have turned to state courts and constitutions to bring about reform under theories of equity and adequacy in school funding. Using the twenty-fifth anniversary of Rodriguez as a milestone for reflection, this article examines three central assumptions that undergird the Rodriguez decision and fuel the unabated litigation over educational finance schemes: that dollars make a difference in educational outcomes, that courts and policymakers can develop standards for what is an “adequate” education, and that litigation will lead to equity in educational finance.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 102 Number 3, 2000, p. 480-513
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 10485, Date Accessed: 7/26/2021 8:10:42 PM

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About the Author
  • William Koski
    East Palo Community Law Project
    E-mail Author
    William S. Koski is a lecturer in law at the Stanford Law School and a supervising attorney at the East Palo Alto Community Law Project. He represents economically disadvantaged children and families in educational equity, school discipline, and special education matters and teaches clinical law at Stanford.
  • Henry Levin
    Teachers College, Columbia University
    E-mail Author
    Henry M. Levin is the William Heard Kilpatrick Professor of Economics and Education and Director of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education (NCSPE) at Teachers College, Columbia University. He specializes in the economics of education, educational reforms for students in at-risk situations, and the analysis of educational privatization.
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