How Can Anyone Say What's Adequate If Nobody Knows How Money Is Spent Now?

November 2006

This chapter is published in Courting Failure: How School Finance Lawsuits Exploit Judges' Good Intentions and Harm our Children, Hoover Press, 2006.

Plaintiffs in adequacy lawsuits presume that school districts know how to use additional funds effectively. This chapter examines that presumption.

Urban school districts do not know how they spend their existing funds, and often fail to direct extra funds to the students and programs to which they claim to attach high priority. In fact, the way urban districts currently convert dollars to resources undermines existing attempts to determine what's adequate. The authors question whether new funds gained through adequacy lawsuits will be spent more purposively or to greater effect.

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