Monday, April 23, 2007

Cooley reviews Sracic, San Antonio v. Rodriguez and the Pursuit of Equal Education

SAN ANTONIO V. RODRIGUEZ AND THE PURSUIT OF EQUAL EDUCATION: The Debate Over Discrimination and School Funding by Paul A. Sracic (University Press of Kansas) has been reviewed by Aaron Cooley, School of Education, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the Law and Politics Book Review. Cooley begins:
The task set forth in Paul Sracic’s SAN ANTONIO V. RODRIGUEZ AND THE PURSUIT OF EQUAL EDUCATION: THE DEBATE OVER DISCRIMINATION AND SCHOOL FUNDING is a difficult one. This volume is one of a series of texts that seeks to introduce a significant case in the history of American jurisprudence and flesh out its cultural and political impact, as well as its constitutional legacy. It can be quite challenging to provide an accurate summation of the technical details of complex litigation while, at the same time, explaining the case in accessible terms for non-specialists.
Sracic manages to balance these goals in a masterful manner. In the preface, he relays that he uses RODRIGUEZ as an example in the courses he teaches. The text at hand reflects his immense knowledge about the events leading up to the litigation, the personalities and backgrounds of the major actors, the political effects on the nation’s educational system, and the legal consequences gained from years of its use in his classrooms. The volume proceeds chronologically from the rationale for why the case came into being to the effects of the case on present school equity litigation. Several sections merit particular consideration and analysis. Each of these sections will be examined in turn.

[For example,] Sracic fills in the background on Justice Powell as it relates to educational rights and equity cases. This section is very informative for illustrating possible factors that might have shaped Powell’s views on the RODRIGUEZ case. Of paramount importance in this area was Powell’s own work in the governance of schools. Sracic relays Powell’s position on education, which foreshadows the outcome of the case: “Powell’s experience on the Richmond School Board led him to develop great affection for the idea of local control over the schools. . . . He did not believe that unequal funding led directly to unequal education. The link between funding and quality had never, to Powell’s way of thinking, been definitively made” (pp.66-67). This notion of local control is something that plays a large role in sorting out the elements of the RODRIGUEZ case.

For the rest, click here.