Lesson 3: A Framework for Assessing Equity and Adequacy in School Finance
Equality has been a mantra of American public education since the common school was founded in the 19th century. The notion that all citizens are entitled to a free public education in order to gain sufficient knowledge to govern themselves and to contribute to a productive economy is a foundation principle of our democracy. Over the years, however, Americans have deliberated over what level of education is sufficient and who is responsible for providing the resources necessary to deliver it.
Policymakers, educators, parents, and other taxpayers have long engaged in debates about school funding systems. At times these disputes have found their way to court. Since the 1970s, school finance lawsuits have been filed in nearly every state, including each of the seven states in the Central Region. Historically, these lawsuits have focused on equity issues; however, the trend in school finance litigation has shifted recently from equalizing resources across districts to providing adequate resources to meet standards and reach student achievement goals.