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New Book Acclaims Adequacy Litigations

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Published: 10/16/2009 12:59:00 PM

Countering the recent slew of books by Eric Hanushek, Al  Lindseth, Paul Peterson and other critics of education adequacy and sound basic  education litigations, a new book by Michael A. Rebell argues that successful  outcomes in these cases, which have been initiated in dozens of states, is  essential if the United States is to achieve its stated policy goals of  eliminating achievement gaps and providing equal educational opportunity to all  children.  Courts and Kids: Pursuing  Educational Equity Through the State Courts, just released by the University of Chicago Press, provides a history, and current  status report on these constitutional challenges to financial and other  inequities in state education systems, together with recommendations for how  successful and long-lasting remedies can be put into place.  

In a statement that  appears on the back cover of the volume, Arne Duncan, the U.S. Secretary of  Education, states:

Michael Rebell has a brilliant legal mind and a tremendous  heart for children, particularly those who have been poorly served by public  education. He challenges all of us to think differently, and to do so with a  sense of urgency, because our children cannot wait.

Over the past thirty-five years, federal courts have  dramatically retreated from actively promoting school desegregation. Rebell  argues in this book that state courts have taken up the mantle of promoting the  vision of educational equity originally articulated in Brown v. Board of  Education. Courts and Kids is the first detailed analysis of why the state  courts have taken on this active role and how successful their efforts have  been.

While the plaintiffs  have won in the majority of these cases, the decisions are often branded  “judicial activism”—a stigma that has reduced their impact. To counter the  charge, Rebell defends the courts’ authority and responsibility to pursue the  goal of educational equity. He envisions their role as being primarily supervisory,  and offers innovative recommendations on how the courts can collaborate with  the executive and legislative branches to create an effective and truly  democratic educational system.

Michael A. Rebell is executive director of the Campaign for  Education Equity, executive director of the National Access Network, and professor  of law and educational practice at Teachers College, Columbia  University, and adjunct professor of  law at Columbia Law School.  He is the author or coauthor of many books, including Moving Every Child Ahead:  From NCLB Hype to Meaningful Educational Opportunity.

Copies of Courts and Kids can currently be ordered directly  from the University   of Chicago Press at a 20%  discount through the following link: