Carl F. Noll


With these words, the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education, unanimously declared that the long-standing, state- enforced doctrine of "separate but equal" denied equal protection of the laws to non-white pupils in state-supported schools. Recognizing the fundamental importance of an education in modern society and finding that "[s]eparate education facilities are inherently unequal," the Court ruled that a state could no longer make the extent of a child's educational opportunity a function of the color of his skin. Nineteen years later, the Supreme Court was called upon in San Antonio Independent School District v.Rodriguezs to review the constitutionality of another long-standing, state-enforced practice of affecting education. This time the challenge was to the Texas scheme of financing public elementary and secondary education. This scheme, and those in nearly every state, relied primarily upon local ad valorem property taxes, and resulted in great disparities between school districts in the amount of funds available for educational expenditures.