Rodriguez Revisited: Constitutional Theory and School Finance
Edward B. Foley
Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law
Georgia Law Review, Symposium Issue on "Law in the Public Schools, Spring 1998
For the 25th anniversary of San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 1 (1973), this article defends the Court's much criticized decision. Invoking Rawls's idea of "the veil of ignorance," Foley argues that persons ignorant of their own identity would reject equality of educational opportunity in favor of a principle that would permit parents and local communities to spend their own wealth to improve their own children's education -- as long as all children were guaranteed at least a minimally adequate education. Foley then relies on Ely's theory of representation-reinforcing judicial review to justify the judiciary's insistence that state legislatures comply with this minimal standard. Next, Foley explains why this minimum standard should be defined as a civics education that enables students to understand the value choices that underlie issues of public policy such as taxation and welfare reform. Finally, Foley demonstrates that providing students with this kind of civics education would not be unduly expensive: given certain assumptions, which the article details, approximately $3600 per student per year (in current dollars) for an average school district.
JEL Classification: I22, I28, K39
Date posted: October 7, 1997
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