What Do Cost Functions Tell Us About the Cost of an Adequate Education?
- Robert Costrell, Susanna Loeb
O february 15, 2005, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts found in favor of the commonwealth in the Hancock school adequacy case. In so doing, the court lifted its 1993 finding of constitutional violation and decisively terminated twenty-seven years of litigation. The court’s decision to “dispose of the case in its entirety” was a stunning reversal of the trial judge’s conclusion, and it bucked the trend of plaintiff victories in adequacy lawsuits nationwide. It was a case that had been closely watched by leaders of the adequacy movement, who visited the state repeatedly, viewed it as “the advance wave of the second round” of adequacy suits, and were confident of success. What was it about the Hancock case that distinguished Massachusetts from other states? And what insights can we draw from Hancock regarding the meaning and utility of the adequacy theory more generally? The commonwealth’s victory was the result of the state’s unusually vigorous education reforms since 1993. In a two-pronged program, the state infused