Saturday, December 28, 2013

Race to the Top (RTTT)

When discussing education reform, No Child Left Behind is cited as the beginning of the end of a movement towards a more democratic public education institution. Unfortunately, regardless of the shift in executive partisan leadership, Obama and his educational initiative Race to the Top have been accused of continuing the standardized machine the leaves teachers, students, and communities on the margins. Without addressing the root cause such epidemics as the achievement gap, Race to the Top hastily favors a start from zero approach. What is seriously wrong with this approach is the appearance of a staggered start that eventually evens out. However as time goes on certain runners are asked to run more laps than others, and according to the legislation that this process still establishes a process towards democracy.

“No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, which involve high levels of solely quantitative measures of “success”; and frequent tests for preservice teachers that may or may not evaluate their abilities to teach effectively.” (Porfilio xiv) These measures are not indicative of many of the challenges students and teachers face on a day- to- day basis, due to societal issues and lack of resources respectively. Therefore an irrelevant test is manifested for a population who, to put it plainly, couldn’t care any less. 

Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education “wishes to create a system to measure the Value Added scores for graduates of teacher preparation programs and reward programs that yield high- scoring teachers and punish those who fail to make the grade.” (Duncan 2012, Porfilio 58) This may seem like a great idea, keeping teachers accountable, however Duncan himself has never taught in a traditional classroom, his credentials lie in school administration, and even though this may be great preparation for formally holding teachers accountable, it is a spit in the face of teachers who have little representation via unions, to express their countless attempts to “improve test scores”. If you are not in the class everyday, or have some frame of reference, no matter how vague, of classroom culture, it is hard to determine what exactly are suitable measures of competence in such an array of diverse class environments. All students are intelligent, yes, so therefore the objective is just a matter of identifying that intelligence, and nurturing it until the student becomes able to form a healthy self-esteem and positive self-identity. 

What gets in the way of determining these intelligences are standardized tests.
“Standardized testing is at the center of No Child Left Behind and its blueprint for reauthorization, Race the Top, the push for value added assessment, the creation of database tracking projects to longitudinally measure teacher ‘performance’ on students’ standardized tests, the linkage of teacher evaluation and pay to such standardized test-based measures, the imposition of ‘urban portfolio districts,’ legislative moves to stifle the power of teachers unions, the unbridled entry of corporate managers into school reform bypassing professional educators and educational scholarship, and the use of corporate media to frame educational problems as solutions. Standardized testing has also been at the center of the push for charter school expansion and the expansion of for profit management companies running schools.” (Porfilio 75) In addition to holding teachers accountable for things they cannot control, Race to the Top also rewards exclusive charter schools who have little proven difference in test scores then public schools, and for the ones that do better, they have very restrictive de facto regulations that closes the door on ELL and special needs students. What this may be is a resurgence of eugenic philosophies of race-based intelligence and the futile approach to equalize an inherently unequal genetic paradigm. Race to the Top therefore needs to be more inclusive and democratic, welcoming voices in and outside of the traditional and unorthodox school systems.

Left Behind in the Race to the Top: Realities of School Reform edited by Julie Gorlewski and Brad Porfilio published by Information Age Publishing Charlotte, North Carolina 2013

Sunday, December 8, 2013

They Schools by Dead Prez

No Child Left Behind (NCLB)

The results of George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind act (NCLB) will soon be measured, and speaks volumes to the new direction we may need to face if we want to improve public education. As  of 2014, NCLB will be up for re-authorization and in its wake will stand a new strategy and policy known as Race to the Top.

As we have already established in our analysis of San Antonio versus Rodriguez poor communities are getting the shaft in terms of funding public education. Even though they may demonstrate more effort in paying a disproportionate amount of taxes, the gap between poor schools and wealthy ones show no sign of narrowing. “In poor communities, local taxation cannot support minimally acceptable schooling. State and federal equalization formulas rarely cover the cost differences between poor districts and wealthy districts.” (xix) A new system is in dire need “wealthier families have access to schools with more robust funding than do their poorer neighbors. Segregation by social class is the rule, not the exception.” (xix)

So the question remains, do we continue testing as outlined by NCLB to determine progress in our public schools. “While worthy standardized tests do provide teachers with much good data, they hardly provide either enough information or the balance of information necessary to assess accurately either a student’s mastery or a district’s or school’s effort. NCLB narrows, and thus profoundly distorts the problem.” (xxi) What are the other elements outside of standardized testing that show evidence of school progress. Do we need to improve resources such as technology? Do we need to get parents involved in their children’s education? Do we need to find better teachers and implement a more effective curriculum?

The main objective is “to keep alive an educational debate that can lead us toward a system of schooling which is worthy of Americans and the democracy of which its people for generations have dreamed.” (xxii)

Scholars from “The Harvard Civil Rights Project, along with other advocacy groups, has warned that the law threatens to increase the growing dropout and pushout rates of students of color, ultimately reducing access to education for these students, rather than enhancing it.” (4) Many students, especially ELL and Developmentally delayed do not have a fighting chance against the overly complicated state-standardized tests necessary for graduation. As a result many of these afflicted students will drop out. The question remains, could these students be included in our national plan if a better distribution of funds was mounted and resources available specifically to enhance education for ELLs and those that are developmentally delayed. Is the current system destined to fail due to its narrow focus on “mainstream” populations?

NCLB “will lead to reductions in federal funding to already underresourced schools and it will sidetrack funds needed for improvement to underwrite transfers for students to other schools.” (5) This spells disaster for those on the low end of the totem pole (ELLs and Developmentally Delayed)

“Although the hope is that such carrots and sticks will force schools to improve, this does not necessarily occur.”

NCLB “boosted test scores in part by keeping many students out of the testing count and making tens of thousands disappear from school altogether. The disappeared are mostly students of color.” (21) So the solution of a past policy was to simply discard those underneath the bar, and leave them to fend for themselves. This is not a strategy that ameliorates the already well known achievement gap between racial and social classes. If anything this policy will further the chasm between the haves and the have nots.

Those with little political representation and lack of resources “are forced to attend underresourced schools where they lack the texts, materials, qualified teachers, computers, and other necessities for learning.” (22) How they will thrive in such an environment is unknown to many who advocate for a better public education system.

“Determinations of school progress should be constructed to reflect a better grounded analysis of schools’ actual performance and progress rather than a statistical gauntlet that penalizes schools serving the most diverse populations.” (25)

“Accountability must be a two- way state and federal support.” (26)

“It is not hard to find urban and poor rural schools where one-third or more of the teachers are working without training, certification, or mentoring. In schools with the highest minority enrollments, students have less than a 50 percent chance of getting a mathematics or science teacher with a license and a degree in the field that they teach.” (27)

“Imagine a federal law that declared that 100 percent of all citizens must have adequate health care in twelve years or sanctions will be imposed on doctors and hospitals.” (60)

conservative Boston Think Tank: Pioneer Institute

Jackie McKenzie, former superintendent states: “NCLB is actually a cynical effort to shift public school funding to a host of private schools, religious schools, and free-market diploma mills or corporate experiments in education.” (84)

“Apart from the obvious bonanza for the giant companies that design and score standardized tests, hundreds of supplemental service providers’ have already lined up to offer tutoring, including Sylvan, Kaplan Inc. and Princeton Review Inc… Kaplan says revenue for its elementary—and secondary—school division has doubled since No Child Left Behind has passed.” (87)

conservative foundations such as the Heritage Foundation endorse vouchers and believe in the free-market. Not to forget the Hoover Institution in California, Manhattan Institute in New York, Education Reform in Washington, and many others.

Walt Haney from Boston College, progressive

Many Children Left Behind: How the No Child Left Behind Act Is Damaging Our Children and Our Schools by Edited By Deborah Meier and George Wood published by Beacon Press, Boston 2004

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Private Wealth and Public Education

How do we fund public education?

Property taxes.

What does location, location, location mean?

The closer one lives to main hubs or urban centers the higher the cost of property. Apartments/Houses/Commercial Buildings cost a considerable more amount of money in New York rather than Nebraska, because New York is host to the economic bloodline of our country; Wall Street.

Do richer cities have better public education?


So New York must have the best public schools?

Not exactly. There are some good schools in areas like Manhattan or Long Island, but there are also areas such as the Bronx or Harlem, where, despite gentrification, harbor low income districts with low property tax revenues. Schools in these areas where minority populations are the highest, suffer as a result of our current funding system. Even though they pay their fare of taxes, there is just simply not enough money generated to compete with richer communities, of whom, in some areas, receive an equal amount of state support. As time goes on, these troubling communities without state and federal financial assistance, undergo severe educational de-development and decay. The question is how do we as a country provide a standard form of public education that is globally competitive. Harvard will always be Harvard, but how does the city of Cambridge in Massachusetts compete with Oxford in England.

So how does a wealthy community pay for their public education? What do they do differently. “The wealthy in one district can confine their expenditures to their own children and those other families of similar wealth who are paying equally. The less wealthy in a neighboring district are left to finance their own children’s education, with a reduced set of resources. If their resources are very small, then their children’s education is very poorly financed.” (Sugarman ix)

Are wealthy communities motivated to help ameliorate the achievement gap between the rich and the poor. “It appears likely that if the upper middle class suburbs cease to be semi private school refuge for families with money, they will resort to a final strategy—moving their children to private school.” (Sugarman xiii) [Braintree]

With tuition vouchers each family has equal potential for obtaining its child’s education, on an open market. Educational opportunity is primarily a problem of racial segregation. For inequalities of education, integration has been the liberal’s patent medicine. However, today, even integrated schools along with segregated schools, fall short in meeting the expectations outlined by state achievement tests. And in the absence of good public schools, vouchers, charter schools, private schools, and home schooling have become the competitive alternative. Where are parents to look to in order to ensure their children receive a quality education, especially those who are struggling to make ends meet.

Thurgood Marshall has reiterated this concern about education: “Not only will quality education for all children not be guaranteed by integration, but there is danger that a holy war with this single objective will produce a Pyrrhic victory by neglecting and obscuring other important forms of discrimination in education against both white and black.” (Sugarman xviii)

Politicians maintain this landscape of poverty and wealth by gerrymandering and carpetbagging, volatile districts many times riddled with crime and debauchery succumb to power hungry politicians. This is what leads to what we have already illustrated with contrasting communities in New York, Manhattan v. Bronx. A top notch education within 10 miles of the poorest schools in the nation.  

Private Wealth and Public Education  take a look at a numerous amount of states in their analysis of the American Public Education, they include: Ohio, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Delaware, Hawaii, North Carolina, Rhode Island, New York, Maine, Wisconsin.

So do we just give underperforming schools money in order to turn things around, can we be sure that effective budgets are drawn and the management of funds are rightly allocated. How do we assess improvement, what does it mean when we say that a school is showing “effort”?

It is the effort factor that is most likely to be adjusted when limitations are considered. In 2002, NCLB and high stakes tests for poor schools was a measure of the effort (raw numerical scores) of “underperforming schools” however many of the incentives could not be met. This was due to an assortment of things like dwindling state budgets, and conflicting ideology with regard to distribution of wealth and entitlements and earmarks. Sugarman and associates offer a plethora of solutions, one of them includes states to impose a spending floor which would support districts that simply cannot come up with the resources income and property taxes included, in comparison to wealthy districts.

“The problems of potential mismeasurement of effort are more practical than theoretical, and they seem to be at least threefold. First is the problem of incidence, second the problem of local source to total local wealth, third marginal utility.”

1)   incidence- a district may be able to pass on the tax it levies to outsiders, both distorting our perception of local wealth and disrupting the relation between tax-levy and effort.
2)   The proportion of the local source to local wealth where real property may represent a higher proportion of total local wealth in poor districts than in rich districts. A poor man is trying two and a half times as hard to make ends meet and compete with wealthier districts.
3)   Marginal utility – a problem of the poor because it is their limited income and fixed needs that make any proportion of wealth put toward education more difficult to surrender. The Cost is not simply the worth of money but more  expensive like time.

“principle must yield to pragmatism if power equalizing is to be more than an academic exercise.” (Sugarman 222)

Some economic theory in the University of Texas Bake Sale:

“Use tax is normally collected by the merchant making a sale; but for our purposes he would have to change different rates to different purchasers based upon the rules in their districts.” “The use tax may well be regressive, although with elimination of food from the base it is perhaps proportional. It tends to measure consumption instead of income; and the poor, in an economic sense, have a greater propensity to consume (rather than save) than do the rich.” (Sugarman 224) The University of Texas charged people differently according to there race, which was designed to poke fun of progressive taxes, taxing people differently based on there collective income. As a group minorities make less money that their white counterparts, so such a tax is plausible but what the University of Texas does not get is that those “affirmative action” admissions, are seeking a universal right to all individuals, a sufficient public education, not a silly cinnnabon.
“in the 1800s education [was] beneficial to the whole community, so that taxes for it should be borne by the whole community.” (Sugarman 224)

Sugarman and associates agree that decentralization is the key.

“Power equalizing, being a system of local finance, permits this saving in the form of lower local taxes; but in-efficient communities can export some of the cost in the form of state taxes (just as some of the efficiency saves state taxes). Actually, power equalizing is not special in this regard because any state aid at all raises the same problem; and a centralized system spreads the inefficiency to a greater degree.” (Sugarman 232)

Where as “ a centralized system of public education financed by a tax proportional on income would be considered “fair” in most quarters; but even under such a system, because of marginal utilities, the poor would be hurt more than the rich by their proportional contribution to education. School children could only be injured equally, however, because of the statewide nature of the spending program.” (Sugarman 242)

“Only after fiscal equity is achieved can we embark upon the turbulent waters of de facto segregation, whether by race or social class, and feel confidence in judging its educational consequences. This is not a canard of reaction; if change comes, it will come through judicial prompting and it will come in this generation. We are not talking about the year 2000. Nor are we suggesting that decisions on priorities be suspended or programs postponed. The point is, simply, that fiscal rationality may contribute more to understanding the nature of our problem than any single reform.” (Sugarman 250-251) This book was published in the 70s when segregation was more rampant. However the need to equalize opportunities among those of different races and social class still is a present issue that must be addressed.

So who is going to pay for the improvement?

“All levels of government would be functioning in a fashion emphasizing at once both national community and local variety. There would be only one conceivable step beyond: a speculative form of fiscal equity that we call family power equalizing.” (Sugarman 256)

“The current commotion over decentralization of school systems is a complex phenomenon on which we essay no firm conclusion except that it bids fair to be part of the educational scene for the foreseeable future.” (Sugarman 268) In 2013, in the midst of such affirmative action cases such as the one occurring at the University of Texas, deserves attention, especially as we as a nation are defining the aspects of a “Great Society”.

democrats v. republicans, Still a partisan issue

“Political power and alliances will shape the program. The distribution of that power will differ from state to state and district to district; yet, some common elements and a patterned overall response are to be expected.” (Sugarman 273) Republicans will favor vouchers, charter schools, free market and decentralization State rights), Democrats will favor progressive taxes, minority scholarships, consolidation and centralization (federalization). Hopefully both parties and the community at large will found common ground and reach key priorities.

Will a decision from the courts in the University of Texas case make a difference in our national debate on education?

“the best service the court can perform is fourfold: (1) break the logjam of the status quo and thus free the state from a politically immovable system; (2) give the state wide latitude in its re-examination of the finance problem; (3) speak with clarity in a standard capable of intelligent interpretation; (4) remain keenly sensitive to the likely legislative and popular responses to the various forms its decisions and orders might take.” (Sugarman 294)

“Equality is a relation, not a thing; it is either form in the Platonic idiom nor is it  a quality of any existent thing considered by itself. For an equality to “exist”, two entities are necessary; it is not truly an aspect of either entity to which it relates except insofar as it is a property of both. When this is clear there is no harm in describing one thing as equal to another. All this applies also to equality only in being infinitely variable. Equality is the unique instance; in this it resembles an equation for which there is a single correct answer but an infinity of wrong ones. Of course, this absolute must be immediately defused. For practical purposes—and especially for constitutional purposes” (Sugarman 299)

“the litigation and literature on the school finance issue have produced a number of proposed formulations of a Fourteenth Amendment duty of the state to treat education as a ‘fundamental right’.” (Sugarman 304)

“We are content with a constitutional meaning for equality of opportunity that can be understood and then can be applied to the grosser objective aberrations of the existing systems, those springing from state- created wealth determinants of quality.” (Sugarman 307)

“the courts have neither the knowledge, nor the means, nor the power to tailor the public moneys to fit the varying needs of these students throughout the state.” (Sugarman 308)

14th Amendment for its intended purpose

“Most civilized critics of the court concede the propriety of applying the equal protection clause in a forceful fashion to racial classifications because of the special historical purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment. But the continued extension of judicial protection to other victims of discrimination leaves many critics upset. Such an approach, they say, imperils the fundamental aim of reasoned judgment rendered according to neutral principles.” (Sugarman 346)

Class unity? Racial unity? Class and racial unity?
“there are poor districts which are basically Negro, but it is clear almost by definition that the vast preponderance of such districts is white. Of course the class injured by the present school financing discrimination may be defined in many ways.” (Sugarman 357)

Pierce v. Society of Sisters “settled the question of the Fourteenth Amendment right to satisfy the statutory duty of compulsory education by attendance at a private school, secular or religious, meeting appropriate state standards….. Education, like property, cannot be monopolized by the state.” (Sugarman 401)

“In Abington School District v. Shempp, Mr. Justice Brenan, concurring, noted: “Americans regard the public schools as a most vital civil institution for the preservation of a democratic system of government.” (Sugarman 402)

“the issue of financial discrimination between districts, as we have shown, has literally nothing to do with race.” (Sugarman 403) or does it?

“It seems, in candor, that in this line of cases the language of Brown in praise of education stands alone, until the court speaks again, its role as authority remains inscrutable for our purposes.” (Sugarman 409)

Is education as critical as health care? Should education be as “universal” as health care?

“Our posture here may suggest that the federal legislation in aid of education in defined areas of poverty should be held invalid under the unwritten equal protection clause of the Fifth Amendment.” (Sugarman 426) The nation is simply not doing enough and the states are denying funds because of partisan politics. This money has real implications when it is not invested in the low income communities, and casts a cloud over the American Dream.


Private Wealth and Public Education

Authors John E. Coons, William H. Clune III, Stephen D. Sugarman

Published by The Belknap Press of Harvard University
Cambridge, MA 1970

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Limits of Brown v. Board of Education, Latin Americans in San Antonio v. Rodriguez

“In the Rodriguez case, Demetrio Rodriguez and six other parents of children who attended school in the poor, overwhelmingly Mexican American Edgewood section of San Antonio filed suit in federal court arguing that the Texas funding system violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.” (Sracic 1)

The question would arise as to how best to equalize education. The well off would be protected by laws that ensure the rich to maintain their wealth. However the indigent poor would be at the mercy of historically racist state policies, ex. Jim Crow.

In Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925) the Supreme Court ruled that laws attempting to ban private education was a violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Again reiterating that the amendment which called for the citizenship of black people, in the wake of the Civil War, would be used, ironically, for those who have never endured discrimination and injustice.

In Cummings v. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court heard a challenge by a group of African American parents in Georgia when the school board cut off funds for a segregated black high school. The Court decided in favor of the school board. Curiously enough the author of the Court’s opinion in Cummings, Justice John Marshall Harlan, had three years earlier authored a famous dissent in the case of Plessy v. Ferguson  (1896). Justice Harlan claimed that the Constitution is color-blind and that the Louisiana statute was based “on the ground that colored citizens are so inferior and degraded that they cannot be allowed to sit in public coaches occupied by white citizens.” (Scracic 9) It would seem that along with legislation such as Jim Crow, Supreme Court justices would hold onto antiquated perspectives on race. And strangely enough would open lanes for whites to use an amendment created to help people of color, whom have been historically disenfranchised.  

One way that states got around mandatory laws (de jure) and enforcing Supreme Court rulings such as Brown V. Board, was to allow gerrymandering and redistricting (de facto), making it impossible for people of color to collectively escape poverty. “Although there was no Texas law that said Mexican Americans could not attend the same schools as white students, school district lines were drawn around existing neighborhoods; since neighborhoods were (effectively though not legally) segregated, so were the schools.” (Sracic 10) In addition Deed restrictions in many areas prevented houses being sold to Mexican Americans, African Americans, or Native Americans, including those of mixed race.

Miraculously these Mexican- AMERICANS would organize like many ethnic groups in this great country, to better the situation for their people and create a better America. “In 1929, Texan attorney Alonso Perales formed the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) to focus on civil rights concerns including the problem of education.” The GI Forum was also established in 1948 and their motto was “education is freedom and freedom should be everyone’s business.” (Sracic 12)
And in 1968 the Mexican American civil right organization, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) was formed by Pete Tijerina, a lawyer who worked for LULAC. This organization was similar to that of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

In search of a solution to the penniless budgets of predominately Mexican American districts, the groups came up with The Minimum Foundation Program, where a base number of dollars would be established and plans made to close the education gap. The effort to bridge the gap was well intended but a band-aid nonetheless.

In Serrano v. Priest the California Supreme Court had declared that state’s school financing systems to be inconsistent with the demands of both the federal and situational infirmity was the direct result of California justices, this dual constitutional infirmity was the direct result of California making “the quality of a child’s education depend upon the resources of his school district and ultimately upon the pocketbook of his parents.” Since this was nearly identical to the issue raised in Rodriguez, it made sense for Greider [journalist] to search for a precedent in the former. This led him to an individual who played a critical role in all of the early school funding litigation: John E. Coons, who was at the time a law professor at the University at California at Berkeley.  (Sracic 17)

“Whether a student attended a well-funded school was to a large degree dependent on the property wealth of the district in which he or she resided. This was a form of inequality, he [Professor Coons] thought, that might have constitutional significance.” (Sracic 17)

In McInnis v. Shapiro, 1968, Illinois district court ruled against a group of Cook County students who had argued that the Illinois school funding system violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Students in Edgewood, Texas took action on May 16, 1968, as 400 students at Edgewood High School decided to stage a walk-out. Demetrio Rodriguez for who the case was named, was a parent, member of the GI Forum as well as LULAC. He with 5 other parents processed the suit. “Although Edgewood had the highest property tax rate in the San Antonio area, the district had only been able to raise about $26 per student. In the nearby community of Alamo Heights, a much lower tax rate yielded $333 per student. (Sracic 22)

In Hobson v. Hansen (1967), Judge Wright ruled in favor of the plaintiff, Hobson, issuing an injunction that barred the District of Columbia from engaging in either racial or economic discrimination and ordering the district to integrate in schools and to dismantle both the track system and the optional district provision that had exacerbated segregation. Gochman, representing the parents of Edgewood, was interested in Wright’s opinion because of the way in which Judge had combined the notions of racial and economic discrimination.  Judge Berger dissented in the case. (Sracic 26)

“Powell’s opinion in Rodruguez helped to construct boundaries regarding the Fourteenth Amendment that remain in place to this day.

Together, the strict scrutiny and rational basis test form the two tiers of scrutiny available to those, like the plaintiffs in Rodriguez, who would bring challenges under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The two- tier approach also governs some decisions under the Fifth Amendment since—following its decision in Bolling v. Sharpe (1954)—the Supreme Court has recognized an equal protection component within the Due Process Clause of the amendment. (Sracic 32)

Justice William Douglas, writing for the Court in the 1966 case of Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections, suggested that ‘lines drawn on the basis of wealth or poverty, like those of race, are traditionally disfavored.’ Toward the end of his tenure as chief justice, Earl Warren had relied on Harper when he concluded in McDonald v. Board of Election Commissioners of Chicago (1969) that classifications based on wealth or race were ‘highly suspect’.  (Sracic 34)

Gochman explained to the court ‘that under the Fourteenth Amendment the courts will tolerate differences relating to people that are in the same category, historically, but that the courts will not tolerate differences where there has been historical discrimination as stated in Hobson v. Hansen, that the courts will look closely at discrimination if it involves the poor or minority groups.” (Sracic 38)

In McInnis v. Shapiro (1968) students from Cook County, Illinois, brought a suit against Governor Shapiro. The students claimed that the education funding laws in Illinois violated the Fourteenth Amendment “because they [permitted] wide variations in the expenditures per student from district to district, thereby providing some students with a good education and depriving others, who have equal or greater educational need.” On November 15, 1968, a three judge district court ruled unanimously against the students. If Gochman expected to win in district court, he would have to be able to distinguish Rodriguez from McInnis. The fact that, unlike Hobson, McInnis did not involve a racial element might be crucial. (Sracic 38-39)

Unanimously, the judges decided that the Texas school funding system violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. (Sracic 60) This most likely had to do with the fact that race and class were determinate factors

Justice Powell, who worked in Virginia and had a comprehensive background in educational politics both local and state, was the “education justice” on the bench when the appeal was filed, and he would take a special interest in the case, hiring many law clerks and keeping them abreast with frequent memos regarding his perspective.

Charles Allen Wright would argue the appeal for the State of Texas and the city of San Antonio.

In Bullock v. Carter (1972) Bullock was a challenge to a Texas law that required a substantial filing fee to be paid by candidates seeking to have their name placed on a ballot in that state. This law was found to discriminate against those who were poor to pay the fee, and the Court used a version of the strict scrutiny standard to overturn the requirement. (Sracic 82) However in the Edgewood case it was harder to illustrate the complex web of institutional racism that lead to a district of poor, under-represented Mexican Americans. To make a court decision was going to be difficult. With regard to Rodriguez Justice Berger ended his summary with an interesting confession: He claimed that he would support a constitutional amendment that would achieve the result reached by the three-judge court in Texas. Without that amendment, however, he thought the Constitution simply did not address the issue of school funding. (Sracic 93)

Justice Byron White, from Colorado, a former Rhodes Scholar, and winner of Heisman trophy in football claimed: “Rather than demanding absolute equality in funding, White thought that the Court should be clear in endorsing a system like district power equalizing that would not mandate equality but would free up districts that wanted to provide more for their students.” (Sracic 95) a sort of opportunity for community agency and not futile discriminatory policies.

Powell explained that although he had ‘no doubts about the importance of education—especially in a democracy,” education was ‘not guaranteed’ by the Constitution. (Sracic 96)

“Rehnquist explained that the accepted history of the Equal Protection Clause was that it was only intended to eliminate discrimination based on race.” (Sracic 98) and not wealth, no matter how mutually constitutive the two were.

March 21, 1973, Powell in majority opinion stated: We disagree with the District Court, and reverse its judgment.” (Sracic 110)

Powell brought up Brown v. Board of Education as a possible precedent for a different outcome. Although the Court was surely right to order desegregation, said Powell, there are—there have to be—stopping points.” Rodriguez was that stopping point. (Sracic 113) Arguably because Brown V. Board did not overtly called for a redistribution of funds, rather access to a historically disenfranchised group.

Powell’s finding that the right to an education was neither ‘explicitly or implicitly’ protected by the constitution, coupled with his earlier determination that Texas had not created a suspect classification, meant that the proper test to be applied to Rodriguez was the rational basis standard. (Sracic)

“Powell’s background on the Richmond School Board played into his analysis. He concluded from his own experience that local control over the schools was real and not a ‘mere sham’ as Justice Marshall [Thurgood] had asserted in his dissenting opinion.” (Sracic 116)

In dissent was Brennan, Marshall, White, Douglass

In approval was Powell, Rehnquist, Stewart, Chief Berger, Blackmun

Marshall claimed “wealth was as immutable as race; also, the poverty into which children were born—through no fault of their own—closely resembled the hardships and stigma faced by illegitimate children recognized in Powell’s opinion in Aetna v. Weber Casualty and Surety Company (1972). Furthermore, Marshall wrote ‘it is the State that has created the local school districts, and tied educational funding to the local property tax and thereby local district wealth.” (Sracic 121)


San Antonio v. Rodriguez: The Pursuit of Equal Education, The Debate Over Discrimination and School Funding by Paul A. Sracic published by University Press of Kansas 2006