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Spring 2011 - 61955 - PA388K - Advanced Topics in Public Policy

Education Finance

Instructor(s): Haas, Debra S.
Unique Number: 61955
Day & Time: T 9:00 - 12:00 pm
Room: SRH 3.220
Waitlist Information:For LBJ Students: UT Waitlist Information
Course Overview

Topics for these policy seminars have included environmental and natural resources policy, health-service delivery policy, social welfare policy, transportation policy, science and technology policy, international affairs, national security, urban and regional growth policy, and political campaigns.

 

Section Description

This seminar course in which students will focus on issues related to public education finance. The course will cover the development and evolution of education finance concepts including “equity”, “adequacy”, and “efficiency” as they relate to the funding of public elementary and secondary education.

Students will use a variety of resources including texts, court decisions, legislative and executive study reports, state and federal statutes to develop an understanding of the history and current status of educational equity and public education finance.

The first half of the course will focus on federal constitutional issues. The second half of the course will concentrate on events in Texas over the past 30 years.

Course Content: The course will consist of two sections, each with a different policy related assignment. 

The first section of the course will be a historical review the evolution of the concept of equal education under the law, and cover major policy issues that arose from Brown v. Board of Education (1950’s) to Serrano and Rodriguez (1970’s), followed by revisiting these issues in the Meredith v. Jefferson County cases, decided by the Supreme Court in 2007.  This portion of the course will focus on concepts including:

  • Separate but Equal
  • Equal Rights to Education under Federal Law
  • The return of the question to state courts
  • How “equal” does a system have to be
  • What do recent bussing cases mean for state and local control

 

The second half of the course will look at the cases and policy analysis questions (primarily in Texas) that arose after the Supreme Court failed to declare a federal right to equal education under the Fourteenth Amendment (1973) and turned the question back to state legislatures. Concepts addressed in this portion of the course will include:

  • District Power Equalization (Taxpayer Equity)
  • Funding based on variations in Student Need (special educational programs)
  • State versus local control of and responsibility for funding
  • The evolution of the relationship between student performance (testing) and educational equality
  • Understanding the structure of the equalized system of school finance in Texas.
  • Understanding the concept of “efficiency” in public education as defined by student performance.

 

Several guest speakers have been invited to make presentations to the class. Speakers and dates will be included in the syllabus.

Grading policies and class requirements

The first paper will be 7-10 page policy brief explaining the evolution of the concept of equal education under the law. No reading other than class assignments will be required to complete the brief. The brief will be written from the standpoint of a policy staff person writing for a decision-maker.

The second paper will be a policy memo detailing key points and outcomes of the legislation and court cases that form the basis for modifying or restructuring the school finance system to meet judicial standards.

Over the course of the semester students will be assigned one or more court cases on which they will summarized and present the class. These assignments will include preparing notes on the case to be shared with the class for the purposes of discussion. The briefing notes will be due (via e-mail) to the professor by 8:00 on the morning of the class for which they are assigned. The notes will be posted, along with the professor's class notes on Blackboard.

Student grades will be based on the quality of the papers (each will be worth 30%), case briefs (20%) and the remaining 20% will be based on class attendance and participation. Because of the nature of the course, attendance will be required and class participation will be essential to a successful outcome for all students.

Required Textbooks

  • Courts as Catalysts - Matthew Bosworth<
  • Simple Justice - Richard Kluger<

Books have been ordered and will be available at the Co-op East.

Other course documents, including articles and judicial opinions will be on Blackboard.

Course is cross-listed with LAW 371V #29247