Courting Failure

Courting Failure

How School Finance Lawsuits Exploit Judges' Good Intentions and Harm our Children

Editor: Eric A. Hanushek
ISBN: 978-0-8179-4782-8
Publication Date: 11/1/2006
Pages: 366

School funding adequacy and the courts

Perhaps the most significant recent change in policy discussions about school finance has been the introduction of the court's making decisions about funding schemes. The focus of the lawsuits has been funding disparities across school districts, which, generally, have led to increased shares of funding. Yet, until recently, virtually no subsequent analysis has investigated whether student outcomes tended to be more equal after spending was equalized.

Courting Failure examines the issues involved in school funding adequacy in light of recent court cases and shows that judicial actions regarding school finance—related to either equity or adequacy—have not had a beneficial effect on student performance. The expert contributors explain why low achievement is not inevitable for disadvantaged students and why school resources are not the dominant factor in whether students "beat the odds." They show that cost studies on the price of an adequate education turn out to be more politics than science. And they tell how many districts often do not spend the funds they have in the manner need.

These well-researched essays reveal that simply throwing more resources at the problem has not brought about a solution—because measures of school resources do not provide guidance about either the current quality of schools or the potential for improving them. The expert contributors call for more realistic changes centered around accountability, incentives, and more informed parents and policymakers.

Eric A. Hanushek is the Paul and Jean Hanna Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. He serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the National Board for Education Sciences.

Contributors: Williamson M. Evers and Paul Clopton, Eric A. Hanushek, E. D. Hirsch Jr., Alfred Lindseth, Paul E. Peterson, Marguerite Roza and Paul T. Hill, Sol Stern, Herbert J. Walberg


Courting Failure, by Eric A. Hanushek
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Eric A. Hanushek

Eric Hanushek is the Paul and Jean Hanna Senior Fellow and a member of the Koret Task Force on K–12 Education. A leader in the development of the economic analysis of educational issues, his research spans the impact on achievement of teacher quality, high-stakes accountability, and class-size reduction. He pioneered measuring teacher quality on the basis of student achievement, the foundation for current research into the value-added evaluations of teachers and schools. His work on school efficiency is central to debates about school finance adequacy and equity; his analyses of the economic impact of school outcomes motivate both national and international educational policy design.continued

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