Politics, Empirical Evidence, and Policy Design: The Case of School Finance and the Costs of Educational Adequacy

Authored by: Bruce D. Baker , Preston C. Green

Handbook of Education Politics and Policy

Print publication date:  June  2008
Online publication date:  June  2008

Print ISBN: 9780805861112
eBook ISBN: 9780203887875
Adobe ISBN: 9781135595586


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Many studies of late purport to estimate the costs of a constitutionally adequate education. In some cases, these studies—held up as a gold standard—should necessarily guide legislative school finance policy design and judicial evaluation (Rebell, 2006). Pundits favoring a purely empirical view argue that the legal standard under state constitutions for evaluating state school finance systems should be that the systems are substantially “cost based” in terms of overall level of financing and distribution. Others have criticized any and all attempts to estimate education costs and cost variations as pure alchemy (Hanushek, 2006).

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