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Abstract

Courtroom battles surrounding school finance and adequacy claims are very much alive today, nearly forty years after their progenitor, Serrano v. Priest. In spawning a potential new chapter in this history, a trial court in California struck down its state’s battalion of teacher tenure and employment laws under a legal analysis based in the education quality that those laws provided. This “landmark” case, Vergara, is generating conversation that its results could be duplicated throughout the nation. In a format familiar to school finance litigation, the Vergara court found that the state’s tenure statutes so detrimentally affected teaching that education quality was unconstitutionally harmed. While this result may seem extreme, the history of state education litigation, with comparisons to federal segregation litigation, shows not only that these dramatic remedies are not surprising but also that an application of the political question doctrine proves effective in scaling back any policy-based court excesses. As will be argued here, then, Vergara displays the natural conclusion of courts accepting inherently political questions as admissible claims.

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