Courts as Policymakers: School Finance Reform Litigation

Courts as Policymakers: School Finance Reform Litigation

Courts as Policymakers: School Finance Reform Litigation

Courts as Policymakers: School Finance Reform Litigation

Synopsis

Lukemeyer describes four policy important to the effectiveness of school finance reforms: 1) the existence of multiple, sometimes inconsistent, definitions of school finance equity; 2) the uncertain relationship between school spending levels and student outcomes; 3) the role of differences in resource costs and student characteristics in designing an equitable funding system; 4) the role of voter preferences in determining school funding levels. Her book examines the role of each of these issues (and associated expert knowledge) in judicial reasoning and in decisions for or against plaintiffs.

Excerpt

I became interested in education finance reform while working as an attorney in Texas. At that time, Edgewood Independent School District v. Kirby, one of the leading cases in school finance reform, was being litigated. Although I had no involvement, the case sparked considerable interest. Later, as a Ph.D. student, I discovered the emerging research that economists and other social scientists were conducting on the design of different types of school finance systems and the impacts of different finance systems on school spending, educational opportunities, and student achievement. This social science knowledge seemed clearly relevant to designing an equitable and effective school finance system. Further, although this knowledge was not directly about legal issues, it also seemed relevant to those most closely involved in the process of school finance reform litigation: plaintiffs, defendants, and especially the judges called upon to evaluate their claims. Therefore, I became interested in exploring the extent to which this knowledge played a role in judges’ decision making.

At the same time, social scientists were also examining the impact of school finance reform litigation on school spending. These researchers had found good evidence that school spending appeared different (for instance, more equal) in states experiencing successful school finance reform suits. But while social scientists clearly understood these suits to be an important factor in school finance, many lacked the legal background to understand the nuances of this litigation. This, I felt, hindered their ability to explore the impact of these cases.

In short, I felt that social scientists on one hand and lawyers and judges on the other possessed knowledge that ought to be more accessible to the other group. As someone formally trained in both law and social science, I hoped to help bridge that gap. I began the study presented here with four key purposes in mind. My first and primary goal was to better understand and articulate the role of social science knowledge in school finance reform litigation. Second, I hoped to be able to explain the legal side of education finance reform litigation to . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.