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Judicial Resolutions to State School Financing - Case Study Example

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Judicial Resolutions to State School Financing

In its ruling, the Court found that poor communities had to have a high tax rates to generate relatively low per-pupil revenue whereas wealthy communities could have low tax rates and yet still generate relatively high per-pupil revenue (Merrow, 2004). The Court opined that "affluent districts can have their cake and eat it too; they can provide a high quality education for their children while paying lower taxes. Poor districts, by contrast, have no cake at all" (Coon, 1999, citing Serrano).
In an attempt to address such a complex social issue, the Court applied the equal-protection analysis of wealth as a suspect classification by extending it for the first time to school districts and ultimately ordered the state legislature to change school financing laws (Coon, 1999). Subsequent legislation was passed that was designed to equalize school funding by increasing state funds for poor communities while putting a cap on per-pupil revenues in wealthy districts and redistributing some of their local property taxes to poor districts (Merrow, 2004). However, the Court had failed to consider that 75% of poor children lived in high spending districts, and it effectively led to low school spending for most poor children (Merrow, 2004). In addition, the public was disconcerted in paying property taxes and in supporting any increase in property taxes that were not helping their local schools (Merrow, 2004).
Judicial Resolutions 4
Because of the existing and continuing disparities in school funding and educational disparities, it is doubtful that the Serrano decision can be credited with defining and bringing about the educational equality that its original supporters were hoping for in their praise following the Court's ruling. However, the case can concretely be credited with bringing about massive revision in school financing in California and it spurred an immediate wave of similar rulings and legislative action in other states (Brimley, 2003). The effects of those revisions, even in light of subsequent cases that seemed to rule to the contrary, have lasted through the last several decades and continue to impact education today.

San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez (1973)
In San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 1 (1973), issues very similar to those in Serrano were before the Supreme Court of the United States. The San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD), acting on behalf of students whose families resided in poor districts, challenged the Texas state funding scheme by arguing that it violated the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause by underprivileging such students because their schools lacked the vast property ...Show more


Four cases, Serrano v. Priest, San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez, Edgewood Independent School District v. Kirby, and Coalition for Equitable School Funding v. State of Oregon, are examples of historic judicial resolutions on the issue of state school financing which have greatly impacted the significant social issue of educational equalization.
Author : abartoletti
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