Politic365

 
 


National

12:06pm March 23, 2013

Wade Henderson: The State of Equality and Justice in America

Justice scales of justice appeals court ruling on federal health care mandate June 2011

 

F

orty years ago, the Supreme Court created an unmitigated disaster for our nation’s school children when it ruled on the case of San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez.

The 5-4 decision allowed Texas to fund school districts on the basis of locally raised tax dollars, confining children in poor communities to underfunded schools. It was a triumph of states’ rights over human rights, holding that education was not a fundamental right under our Constitution and that citizens could not sue in federal court to when states underfund their schools. This has led to decades of expensive, drawn-out litigation in most states on behalf of students, parents, and poor communities thirsting for better schools.

Rodriguez’s legacy runs counter to the principles set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 and in Brown v. the Board of Education in 1954, guaranteeing high-quality public education to all children on equal terms. The result is nothing short of a national crisis.

Since Rodriguez, educational attainment in the United States has become even more inextricably tied to social outcomes like employment and earnings, incarceration, and civic engagement. Yet as a result of inequities like persistent race- and class-based achievement gaps, unacceptably low graduation rates, and more than a million student drop outs each year, millions of people have become trapped in perpetual unemployment and underemployment. We know for a fact that educational outcomes are linked to resources, yet Rodriguez continues to thwart the possibility of a national solution to a nationwide problem

Even though the vast majority of courts have made it absolutely clear that state funding systems violate students’ rights to public education, states have been unable or unwilling to remedy the violations. In fact, resistance to court orders on requiring greater equity in school funding is perhaps the one political position that has been uniquely bipartisan over the years.

In Colorado, a trial court ruled in 2011 that the state’s public schools were both inadequately and inequitably funded. The judge ordered state officials to fix the problem. Despite this ruling, Governor Hickenlooper and a bipartisan group of public officials rejected the court order, took no leadership to craft a solution, and now litigation has resumed.

A few weeks ago in Texas, a district court judge held that the state’s public school funding system is “arbitrary, inequitable and inadequate” under the Texas constitution. This victory follows a series of similar court decisions in Texas since Rodriguez. But Governor Perry immediately appealed the decision, which will likely have little impact on the education students receive in Texas.

In Kansas, the courts ordered the legislature to fully fund its inequitable public education system. Instead of complying with the order, the legislature proposed a constitutional amendment to block the courts from ruling in school finance cases.

This state-by-state, zip code-by-zip code approach fails to ensure that all children get the education they deserve. It jeopardizes the nation’s ability to compete in the global economy and threatens its guiding principles of justice, fairness, and equality.

History makes clear that simply following the practices of the past will not lead us to the outcomes we clearly need as a nation. Despite right wing calls for more local control and so-called “states’ rights,” the inconvenient truth is that the federal government must be able to step up and assume a greater role in providing equitable funding to schools.

The legacy of Rodriguez is a messy patchwork of state policies that underfund schools in poor communities, resulting in a child’s zip code having primacy over a Constitutional guarantee of equality under the law. For the last forty years, state-based solutions have failed our kids. Without an established national right to education, we risk seeing more of the same over the next 40 years.

 



About the Author

Wade Henderson
Wade Henderson
Wade Henderson is the president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition for more than 200 national civil and human rights organizations working to build an America as good as its ideals.




 
 

 
chaka3

Mollohan, Murtha, Lewis, Young, Weldon, Dicks, Kanjorski… Fattah Indicted

Let’s take a look at who the Department of Justice has recently investigated for reasons similar to the allegations alleged in the indictment of Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA). Rep. Allan Mollohan (D-WV) was investigated by DoJ...
by Lauren Victoria Burke
2

 
 
Tim2

Sen. Tim Scott Talks Justice Reform and Outlines His Police Body Camera Bill

Yesterday, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) introduced a bill that would provide local jurisdictions with $100 million per year in body cameras. Though there is no specific set of standards for states to receive money for the cameras, Sen...
by Lauren Victoria Burke
0

 
 
Bill1

Bill Clinton Says Crime Bill “Made Things Worse.” Where’s Everyone Else?

“I signed a bill that made the problem worse,” former President Bill Clinton admitted t members of the NAACP in Philadelphia on July 15. Of course, it really wasn’t a matter of Bill Clinton “admitting it...
by Lauren Victoria Burke
1

 

Advertisement
 
kidnap1

Rep. Frederica Wilson Keeps Attention on #TakeBackOurGirls as #MSM Disappears

Wilson’s War to #TakeBackOurGirls Continues. Last week the President of Nigeria visited Washington.  As he did, Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) continued to apply constant pressure and social media attention on the Nige...
by Lauren Victoria Burke
0

 
 
blm

Real Talk: MoveOn’s Anna Galland on the Bernie/Marty Netroots Nation Fail

Anyone on the Democratic side running for the White House who wants to create some sort of Black voters crisis-fiasco should do what Martin O’Malley and Sen. Bernie Sanders did this weekend at Netroots Nation.  Anyone lo...
by Politic365 Staff
1

 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>