Educational Adequacy as Legal Theory: Implications from Equal Educational Opportunity Doctrine

Michael Heise, Cornell Law School


This article has been published as a chapter in: School money trials: the legal pursuit of educational adequacy. Washington, D.C., Brookings Institution Press, 2007.

Law and public policy discussions about how best to improve public education invariably involve adequacy litigation. Adequacy lawsuits have come to reflect the most recent iteration of an enduring struggle for educational opportunity. The substitution of resources for race and the leveraging of educational policy goals into claims for legal entitlements transformed the equal educational opportunity doctrine and triggered intergovernmental jockeying to define the doctrine among the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. The resulting litigation generates important questions and consequences for both law and policy.