“Race-Conscious” School Finance Litigation: Is a Fourth Wave Emerging?

David G. Hinojosa *

School finance litigation, whether equality-based or adequacy-based, has helped steer state legislators and policymakers toward fairer, more appropriate school finance laws for over five decades and counting. Yet, a common criticism of these cases lingers: simply asking for more dollars for schools will not create the systemic changes needed to help students achieve in the classroom. Those criticisms often fail to acknowledge the research evidencing gains in student performance, including a longitudinal study showing long-term impacts on the most challenging student groups. While those gains are important markers for the school finance movement, the results are limited.

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Legal Precedent and the Opportunity for Educational Equity: Where to Now, Colorado?

Molly A. Hunter *

Kathleen J. Gebhardt **

Since the 1600s in New England and at least the late 1700s more broadly, colonies, states, and the U.S. Congress have recognized the importance of educational opportunity to prepare children for the responsibilities of citizenship and the challenges of changing times. While a Massachusetts court decided the first litigation for fair school funding in 1819, the modern era of these cases began with decisions in California, New Jersey, and the U.S. Supreme Court in the early 1970s. An attempt to rely on federal equal protection for funding equity in San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez led to the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision declaring that education is not a fundamental right under the federal Constitution.

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A Federal Role in Education: Encouragement as a Guiding Philosophy for the Advancement of Learning in America

Gerard Robinson *

Education in the United States is governed by principles of federalism that guide the constitutional relationships between our national government’s three branches and state governments. American federalism was an ideological break from the old ideas of sovereignty under the English governance model that took root in the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, which occurred from May 25 to September 17, 1787. On July 13, 1787, while delegates met in Philadelphia to strengthen the Articles of Confederation (later agreeing to abandon it for a Constitution), members of the Congress of the Confederation convened in New York City and enacted the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. It, along with a then prevailing ideology of encouragement, shaped the early foundation of the federal government’s role in state education.

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COMMENT: From Mainstreaming to Marginalization?— IDEA’s de Facto Segregation Consequences and Prospects for Restoring Equity in Special Education

Kerrigan O’Malley *

Some judicial opinions are so iconic in their sentiment and pervasive in their reach as to become imprinted on the nation’s collective conscience. Such is the case with these words from Chief Justice Warren in the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, holding that racially segregated educational facilities violate an individual‘s rights under the Fourteenth Amendment‘s Equal Protection Clause. In the broader context, these words represent an enduring aspiration that continues to inform policy and signals the need for course correction when legal or judicial discourse strays from equality principles.

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Restorative Practices: Righting the Wrongs of Exclusionary School Disclipline

Marilyn Armour *

Schools are beset with complex challenges in their efforts to educate students. The tough policies created to ensure safe learn-ing environments appear to be increasingly ineffective, generating racial disproportionality in discipline, academic failure, high dropout rates, and a clear school-to-prison pipeline. The drive to meet the standards on state or national tests have generated pressure-cooker classrooms with little time for students who need more attention or for addressing students‘ emotional or social needs. A growing number of sources suggest that some of these conditions are exacerbated by a lack of teacher preparation in student management, lack of training in culturally competent practices, and gaps in familiarity between students and teachers that reinforce okay-racial stereotypes. Much of this fallout predictably and disproportionately affects economically disadvantaged African American and Hispanic students.

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Sexualization, Sex Discrimination, and Public School Dress Codes

Meredith Johnson Harbach *

If you follow social media, you may have noticed the rash of reporting on battles over public school dress codes and their effects on and implications for girls. Complaints have been registered across the country, including here in Virginia. For example, in September 2014 at the Maggie Walker Governor’s School, administrators announced over the PA system that school officials would be performing a shorts-length spot check. Any girls found to be in violation of the rule would be forced to change; if ten girls broke the rule, all girls would be banned from wearing shorts for a day.

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Over-Disciplining Students, Racial Bias, and the School-to-Prison Pipeline

Jason P. Nance *

Over the last three decades, our nation has witnessed a dramatic change regarding how schools discipline children for disruptive behavior. Empirical evidence during this time period demonstrates that schools increasingly have relied on extreme forms of punishment such as suspensions, expulsions, referrals to law enforcement, and school-based arrests to discipline students for violations of school rules. For example, from the 1972–73 school year to the 2009–10 school year, the number of students expelled or suspended from secondary schools increased from one in thirteen to one in nine. Between 1974 and 2012, the number of out-of-school suspensions increased nationally from 1.7 million to 3.45 million. There is also substantial evidence that referrals to law enforcement and school-based arrests have significantly in-creased in recent years.

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Equity in American Education: The Intersection of Race, Class, and Education

Pamela J. Meanes *

A fourteen-year-old Henrico County girl faces assault and battery charges because she threw a baby carrot at one of her former teachers. School disciplinary documents allege the baby carrot was used as a weapon. A Huron High School student threatens to do ?chopper rounds? in his hallway. An Ames, Iowa middle school student brings a BB gun to school. A sixteen-year-old Minnesota Harding High School student told St. Paul police that he brought a loaded gun to class to protect himself from a gang.

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Foreword: A Golden Anniversary

Thomas DiStanislao, III *

Ann Elizabeth Reid **

This year, the University of Richmond Law Review observes its Golden Anniversary with the publication of its fiftieth volume. We take this opportunity to look back over our journal’s history, to celebrate its many successes, and to honor and thank all those who have contributed to both the evolution and the survival of this Law Review over the last several decades.

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