“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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* National Director of Policy for the Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA). The author previously litigated education civil rights cases at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). The opinions expressed here are solely of the author in his individual capacity and do not reflect the opinions of IDRA or MALDEF. The author thanks the many attorneys and advocates continuing to push for equity and adequacy in public education for all students through the courts, in the state and national capitals, and in the schools. The author also gives thanks to the University of Richmond Law Review forgoing outside the box by engaging the community on education and civil rights in its symposium.