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.




 
 

 
FERG

Third Insane Incident of Brutality Involving #Ferguson Police Surfaces

For a small police force of only 53 people, the Ferguson Police Department’s officers appear to have a talent for being involved in alleged incidents of misconduct and brutality that are the catalyst of lawsuits. In three...
by Lauren Victoria Burke
0

 
 
maxine3

St. Louis Native Rep. Maxine Waters: Honor Mike Brown But Take Action

Yesterday at Peacefest in St. Louis, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), who is originally from St. Louis, told the crowd to honor Michael Brown by taking action.   Voter registration has been a major theme in the weeks after the shoo...
by Lauren Victoria Burke
0

 
 
hands-up

#Ferguson: Past is Prologue

“America, that has been ringing the bells of the world, proclaiming to the nations and the peoples thereof that she has democracy to give to all and sundry…America that has arraigned Turkey at the bar of public opinion and ...
by Dr. Wilmer Leon
0

 

Advertisement
 
pow

#Ferguson: Kajieme Powell Video Reveals 4 Inaccuracies in Story Told By Police

Kajieme Powell’s Last 14 Seconds.  On Tuesday, Police in St. Louis responded to a call involving a man who had allegedly stolen two drinks and a doughnut from a store and was “acting erratically.”   That ma...
by Lauren Victoria Burke
4

 
 
holder42

In #Ferguson, AG Eric Holder Says He Too Has Experienced Racial Profiling

Attorney General Eric Holder visited Ferguson, Mo., today regarding the August 9th shooting death of Mike Brown, 18. Brown was shot by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson.  Since the day of the shooting there have been long...
by Lauren Victoria Burke
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>