Framing Equal Opportunity: Law and the Politics of School Finance Reform

By Michael Paris | Go to book overview
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PART III
THE COMMON SCHOOL
AND THE QUEST FOR
CONSENSUS

In 1985, an organization called the council for Better Education, Inc., filed suit in Kentucky challenging the state's school finance arrangements. The Council consisted of sixty-six school districts. The suit claimed, among other things, that the current finance system violated the education clause of the state constitution. The case went to trial in 1987. In 1988, a trial court rendered a decision in favor of plaintiffs, and state defendants appealed to the Kentucky Supreme Court (“the Court”).1

In Rose v. Council for Better Education (1989), the Court used the finance case as the occasion for a rather remarkable decision. After noting that a “child's right an adequate education is a fundamental one under the [state] constitution,” it went on to rule that “Kentucky's entire system of common schools is unconstitutional.” Its decision, it said, “applies to the entire sweep of the system [It] applies to the statutes creating, implementing, and financing the system and to all regulations pertaining thereto.”2

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