The decision of the California Supreme Court in August of 1971 in the case of Serrano v. Priest has unleashed an unprecedented fury of activity in the area of education finance reform. Advocates of reform in the systems by which states and localities finance public education had in 1969 been given what seemed to be an important setback when the United States Supreme Court refused to use the standard of "educational need" to declare invalid the Illinois system of financing public education. The result in that case, whose plaintiffs had based their claim for relief on the federal equal protection clause, required that a new approach be adopted in the effort to restructure education finance systems.
That new approach had been begun in California in mid-1968, and with the aid of the negative guidance provided by the Supreme Court's rejection of the "educational need" standard, the attorneys in the case were able to refine their approach to meet the judicial desire for manageable standards. The decision in Serrano v. Priest was the result of that effort. In the months since Serrano was decided, two other decisions have reaffirmed this approach to the education finance problem-Van Dusartz v. Hatfield, decided by a Minnesota District Court in mid-October, 1971, and Rodriguez v. San Antonio Independent School District, decided by a three-judge District Court panel in Texas on December 23. Dozens of similar lawsuits are pending in other jurisdictions around the country, and the number of such suits is still growing.
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Yale Rev. L. & Soc. Action
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