The past three decades have seen a historic assertion of authority by state courts in the development of a wide range of educational policies. Judicial decisions in many states have recognized a right to an education that is not only judicially enforceable but also subject to a significant degree of judicial control. Most prominent have been the decisions by twenty-six state courts that ordered overhauls of school finance systems to achieve a more equitable distribution of education resources. Courts have also addressed other issues that define the right to an education, effecting significant changes for rural education. Meanwhile, school consolidation—of highest concern in rural areas—has remained largely immune from judicial intervention. A question is to what extent courts should impose substantive limitations on state efforts to close and consolidate community schools. Part I of this article looks at cases that have defined the state’s obligation to provide a “free education.” Part II provides references and some cursory observations on the impact of the school finance cases on rural schools. Part III examines historical, educational, and legal developments around school consolidation.
Robert M. Bastress,
The Impact of Litigation on Rural Students: From Free Textbooks to School Consolidation,
82 Neb. L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nlr/vol82/iss1/3