San Antonio v. Rodriguez : understanding Texas school finance history through a Latino critical race theory framework
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The current economic conditions in the United States have contributed to budgetary cuts to public education at both the federal and state levels. This attention to educational funding and political decisions regarding spending are linked to beliefs about what is valued in education and what proper policy solutions exist. Yet, contemporary actions and issues do not exist in isolation. These economic difficulties are situated in a specific context, history, and have been shaped by political ideologies. This dissertation is directly focused on critically examining the history and context of school finance policy. School finance policy has been an important political issue for over 40 years, beginning with the San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez case (Koski & Levin, 2000). This case was first filed in 1968 and serves as the unit of analysis for this study. While much of the body of work regarding school finance is framed according to traditional economic methods and beliefs, this study is a historic narrative that utilizes critical policy analysis to examine educational funding. Though Rodriguez was a case filed by Mexican American parents on behalf of students in the Edgewood school district, which served a student population that was over 90% Latino, Mexican Americans and the voices of Mexican Americans were glaringly absent from the arguments made in court. This absence of race marks a need for critical policy analysis and work that calls attention to this silent area of political discourse. The purpose of this paper is to examine the inclusion and exclusion of race in the Rodriguez case to find out what is missing from the dominant narratives of school finance and begin to understand how current policies continue to ignore race. Historic methods, guided by a Latino Critical Race Theory (LatCrit) framework, are employed to analyze archival records, newspaper articles, legal documents, and oral histories. Narratives reveal themes of the social context that lead to legal action, the language used in the courts cases, and the lasting implications for continued understandings of school finance policy.