Courts and Law

Money and Good Intentions Won’t Fix Our Schools

Last week the media reported the apparently shocking news that the Kansas City, Missouri School District school board voted 5-4 to close nearly half of its schools, 26 of 61 schools in the district. But those familiar with the district were not surprised. The real question is not why the school board has decided to close so many schools but why it took them so long.

Legal Beat Update

The new issue of Education Next includes a “legal beat” column by Martha Derthick and myself that discusses three important rulings from the Supreme Court’s last term. “Receiving almost no attention but potentially of utmost significance,” we wrote, “was Horne v. Flores, a case about English-language learning in which the court divided narrowly along ideological lines, with Kennedy joining the five-member majority.” Anyone doubting the potential significance of the Supreme Court’s decision in Horne v. Flores should consider two recent developments in Florida and Colorado.

Court Mandates on School Funding Sharply Decline

Since 2005, there have been important adequacy case decisions in over a dozen states, and in none of them have the courts required further funding increases. Several courts, when deciding new adequacy cases, have either dismissed them based on separation of powers grounds or have ruled against the plaintiffs on the merits following a trial.

Colorado Supreme Court Jumps into the Abyss of School Finance

Colorado’s state Supreme Court defied national trends on Monday, handing down a decision in Lobato v. State that thrusts the judiciary into the middle of the state’s educational finance disputes.

From Courthouse to Schoolhouse

Is the involvement of courts an obstacle to school reform, or an asset? A new book, From Schoolhouse to Courthouse: The Judiciary’s Role in American Education, edited by two Ed Next bloggers, Marty West and Josh Dunn, attempts to address this broad topic in a comprehensive way.

The Lost Art of Book Reviewing: Editors Defend School Money Trials

The academic book review is a lost art. In days gone by, one could count on fellow scholars to lay out the books’ argument, skewer it, then identify a laundry list of factual errors that demonstrate the author was careless or worse.

The Supreme Court Gets School Funding Right

One sleeper in the flurry of decisions at the end of the last U.S. Supreme Court term has to be the decision in Horne v. Flores, a long-running Arizona case about funding special programs for English Language Learners (ELL). In overturning lower court decisions calling for continued court-ordered school spending without regard to student outcomes, the Court may lead to a new era of more rational and effective court involvement in school funding policies.

Principals and Teachers Unaware That Courts Defer to Schools When It Comes to Discipline

Courts have given school authorities broad powers over student discipline. So why do students...


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