Poor children in poor schools: Can reform litigation provide the resources they need?

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

Western Social Science Association Annual Meeting


In most states, public schools are financed primarily by local property taxes and state funds. Because property wealth is not distributed equally across districts, some school districts are able to provide much better educational resources than others. Troubled particularly by the education provided to poor and minority families, reformers have challenged school finance disparities in many states and have won in close to half. Although courts and reformers have often discussed their goals in terms of "equal educational opportunity," many suggest that equality of resources is not sufficient: districts with high proportions of "at-risk" students need additional, compensatory resources. Although scholars have studied school finance litigation, few have addressed the extent to which plaintiffs have succeeded in obtaining a judicial mandate for these compensatory school resources. This paper addresses this question, presenting the results of a structured qualitative analysis of all relevant state supreme court opinions from 1971 through 1996.


Education – Finance; Education – Law and legislation; Low-income students; Educational equalization – Law and legislation; Minority students


Education Policy | Other Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Policy Design, Analysis, and Evaluation | Public Policy




Conference held in Reno, Nevada from April 18-21, 2001.


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