Towards a Theory of Equitable Federated Regionalism in Public Education

64 Pages Posted: 10 Feb 2014 Last revised: 25 Jul 2015

See all articles by Erika K. Wilson

Erika K. Wilson

University of North Carolina School of Law

Date Written: August 6, 2013


School quality and resources vary dramatically across school district boundary lines. Students who live mere miles apart have access to vastly different and disparate educational opportunities based upon which side of a school district boundary line their home is located. Owing in large part to metropolitan fragmentation, most school districts and the larger localities in which they are situated, are segregated by race and class. Further, because of a strong ideological preference for localism in public education, local government law structures in most states do not require or even encourage collaboration between school districts in order to address disparities between neighboring school districts. As a result, the combination of metropolitan fragmentation and localism in public education leads to the exclusion of poor and minority students from access to high quality school districts, which are for the most part clustered in more affluent and predominately white localities.

This Article contends that given the race and class based exclusionary effects that metropolitan fragmentation and localism have on public education, the time has come to reconsider the wholesale commitment to localism in public education. It suggests that in some instances, the dissemination of public education should be made on a regional basis rather than a local basis. It examines how enacting regionalism — a theoretical framework, which advocates for the installment of regional governance structures — might occur in public education. Borrowing from two specific theories of regionalism, equitable regionalism and federated regionalism, it proposes a framework entitled "Equitable Federated Regionalism" for disseminating public education on a regional basis.

Keywords: Education, Race, Inequality, Localism, Regionalism, Metropolitan Fragmentation, desegregation, schools, segregation, inequality schools, school funding, school districts

Suggested Citation

Wilson, Erika K., Towards a Theory of Equitable Federated Regionalism in Public Education (August 6, 2013). UCLA Law Review, Vol. 61, No. 5, 2014, UNC Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2393067, Available at SSRN:

Erika K. Wilson (Contact Author)

University of North Carolina School of Law ( email )

Van Hecke-Wettach Hall, 160 Ridge Road
CB #3380
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3380
United States

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