Abstract

Since 1989, most states have faced “adequacy” lawsuits that target state constitutions’ education clauses in aiming to boost funding provided to disadvantaged districts – which should reduce overall inequality in school funding. Using pooled time-series data on 44 states over 19 years spanning the adequacy era, this study examines how adequacy lawsuits affect inequality in total per-student revenue within states. Three main findings emerge from the analyses. First, across all states on average, inequality in revenue declined from 1990 to 2000 but then rose steadily from 2001 onward. Second, revenue inequality was substantially lower in years following the filing of an adequacy lawsuit compared to years preceding the lawsuit. Third, the inequality-reducing impact of adequacy litigation was limited to the years 1990–2000; litigation had no significant impact on revenue inequality during the period 2001–2011. I conclude that 1990–2000 was a much more active and impactful period compared to 2001–2011 in terms of adequacy litigation, raising questions about the future of school finance litigation.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1944-6470
Print ISSN
0098-9495
Pages
pp. 1-20
Launched on MUSE
2017-11-29
Open Access
No
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