In describing the state courts’ active new role following the U.S. Supreme Court‘s decision in Rodriguez v. San Antonio Independent School District,1 this chapter emphasised the dramatic change in the outcome of challenges to state education finance systems that occurred beginning in 1989. From that year up until the time of the book‘s publication in 2009, plaintiffs, who had lost over two-thirds of the cases in the preceding decade, prevailed in more than two thirds of the final liability or motion to dismiss decisions of the state's highest courts. This dramatic turnabout was attributed to the shift in plaintiffs’ legal strategy from an emphasis on equal protection claims to a substantially increased reliance on adequacy claims; the text also stated that the burgeoning standards-based reform movement had a significant impact on the capacity of the courts to craft effective remedies in these cases.
From late 2009 through the end of June, 2017, there were seventeen rulings of state supreme courts or unappealed lower court decisions in cases involving constitutional challenges to state education funding systems. Plaintiffs prevailed in eight of these cases (California (Cal. Sch. Bds), Connecticut, Kansas (2) Louisiana, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Washington), and defendants prevailed in nine (California (Coalition), Colorado (2), Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Rhode Island, and South Dakota and Texas). Thus, plaintiffs prevailed in less than 50% of the major cases that were decided in these recent years.