California Constitutional Law: The Right to an Adequate Education

Anne D. Gordon

Volume 67, Issue 2, 323-66

Plaintiffs’ victory in Vergara v. State, a case about teacher evaluation and employment regulations, has thrust the issue of educational adequacy into the spotlight in California. Campaign for Quality Education v. State, a case based on the California Constitution’s education clause, has been fully briefed before the California Supreme Court and is waiting to be set for argument. These cases require California courts to again look to the constitution to determine what the right to education means. Although the California Supreme Court found this right fundamental over forty years ago, no supreme court decision has yet articulated whether this right encompasses the right to an adequate education. There is no dearth of scholarship about adequacy on the national level, but no scholarship has yet synthesized constitutional history and case law in California to test how the court should decide the case. Examining these factors, as well as the failure of the dominant doctrine⎯equal protection⎯to define and ensure the right, this Article proposes an adequacy jurisprudence that comports with California’s unique circumstances, its history and precedent, and the purposes of education in this state. The need for such an approach has never been greater.

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