The Effectiveness of Court-Ordered Funding of Schools

Eric A. Hanushek
Alfred A. Lindseth
Published Date
Education Outlook
No. 6 (Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute)
Since the late 1980s, state court judges in over twenty states, deriving their authority from the education clauses of their respective state constitutions, have struck down school finance systems as not “adequate.” Pointing to evidence of unacceptable student achievement outcomes, especially among poor and disadvantaged students, advocates of court intervention argue that student outcomes can be improved with additional funding; that is, all children can learn, given sufficient resources. Many courts have accepted this premise and have ordered legislatures to provide unprecedented increases in state appropriations for K–12 schools. Unfortunately, the track record of these judicial interventions suggests that increased funding without other more fundamental changes typically does not lead to improved student performance.