Establishing Education Program Inadequacy: The Alabama Example

The authors draw on their experience as attorneys for a statewide class of plaintiff school children in the liability phase of ongoing public education reform litigation in Alabama to demonstrate the availability of state and nationally recognized standards concerning educational resources (inputs) and results (outputs) that can serve as evidentiary tools for assessing and for establishing a state public education system’s failure to satisfy constitutional mandates of educational adequacy. The Article discusses the usefulness and limitations of using such standards as a starting point in a court’s constitutional analysis. It suggests an integrated approach that links input and output standards from both state and national sources to provide inter-related evidence of inadequacy while maintaining allegiance to constitutional adequacy guarantees as the ultimate standard against which all other standards, including state statutes and regulations, must be judged.