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Hastings Law Journal

Authors

Laurie Reynolds

Abstract

After nearly four decades of school finance litigation, with numerous plaintiff victories based on state constitutional law doctrines of equality and adequacy, subsequent generations of lawsuits reveal that the earlier court decrees have not eliminated sustained inequality and inadequacy in public schools. This disappointing state of affairs, when coupled with the fact that a growing number of state courts are increasingly reluctant to take on the merits of school finance cases, suggests that the future trajectory of school finance and school finance litigation is not positive. In this Article, I suggest that both of these negative trends are at least partially explained by the fact that in the overwhelming majority of cases, courts have not dealt with the inherent structural inequality produced by a finance system that is based on local property taxation. I suggest that plaintiffs should rely on well-established principles of state and local government law to argue that local financing of schools is unconstitutional and that only a system of full state funding of public schools is consistent with the states' affirmative constitutional duty to provide education.

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