School Money Trials: The Legal Pursuit of Educational Adequacy
Martin R. West and Paul E. Peterson, Editors
The Brookings Institution
This weighty collection offers a broad look at the many issues surrounding so-called "adequacy" lawsuits, through which far too many courts have found bases in state constitutions to impose education spending mandates on their legislative and executive branches. Aficionados of this issue will want to read it in conjunction with Eric Hanushek's fine recent volume (see here), although Hanushek's work focuses primarily on the flimsiness of the adequacy arguments. This book covers that ground, too (indeed, Hanushek contributes a chapter on the "alchemy" of the funding calculations). But its 360 pages go farther. Rick Hess shows, for example, that adequacy lawsuit victories have not necessarily translated into policy changes. Joe Williams and Christopher Berry offer similar assessments (though Berry finds some evidence that such suits are associated with increased state funding and decreased inequity). Other chapters examine the interplay between adequacy suits and standards-based reform and prognosticate the future of adequacy suits (which may not be bright). You can order your copy here.