California Constitutional Law: The Right to an Adequate Education

44 Pages Posted: 25 Dec 2015 Last revised: 26 Jan 2016

See all articles by Anne Gordon

Anne Gordon

Duke University School of Law

Date Written: December 23, 2015


Plaintiffs' victory in Vergara v. State, a case about teacher evaluation and employment regulations, has thrust the issue of educational adequacy into the spotlight in California. Campaign for Quality Education v. State and Maya Robles-Wong et al. v. State, cases based on the California Constitution’s education clause, have been fully briefed before the California Court of Appeal and are set for argument at the end of January 2016. These cases require California courts to again look to the constitution to determine what the right to education means. Although the California Supreme Court found this right fundamental over forty years ago, no supreme court decision has yet articulated whether this right encompasses the right to an adequate education. There is no dearth of scholarship about adequacy on the national level, but no scholarship has yet synthesized constitutional history and case law in California to test how the court should decide the case. Examining these factors, as well as the failure of the dominant doctrine - equal protection - to define and ensure the right, this Article proposes an adequacy jurisprudence that comports with California’s unique circumstances, its history and precedent, and the purposes of education in this state. The need for such an approach has never been greater.

Keywords: Education, California, constitution, adequacy, schools, adequate, equal protection, Vergara

Suggested Citation

Gordon, Anne, California Constitutional Law: The Right to an Adequate Education (December 23, 2015). Hastings Law Journal, Vol. 67, No. 2, 2016, Available at SSRN:

Anne Gordon (Contact Author)

Duke University School of Law ( email )

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