Education Policy

Rodríguez vs. San Antonio ISD – The Law in Education

On March 31, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its ruling in the Rodriguez v. San Antonio ISD case – a lawsuit filed by families in Edgewood ISD and five other districts. On a 5-4 vote, the court declared that the Texas system school funding was unfair, but that education was not a fundamental right guaranteed by the federal constitution.

This case has special significance for IDRA because less than a month after the ruling, Dr. José A. Cárdenas reluctantly submitted his resignation as Edgewood ISD superintendent, founding IDRA to pursue full-time what was to become a multi-decade quest for school finance equity.

For the 50th anniversary of the ruling in 2023, IDRA released a number of resources about the case, the families involved, and what followed.


Watch the video from our special event held March 22, 2023: Rodriguez vs. San Antonio 50th Anniversary Commemoration – The Fight for School Finance Equity: Past, Present and Future. We hosted the event with Trinity University and its Center for Education Leadership, Edgewood ISD and the National Coalition on School Diversity.

IDRA also co-hosted a Twitter Chat with the National Coalition on School Diversity on Monday, March 20. Search #RodriguezAt50 to see the chat. You an also see highlights, Betrayal of Brown: A recap of NCSD’s #RodriguezAt50 Twitter chat, in a post compiled by the School Diversity Notebook.

Latest Article

Families Insist on Equitable School Funding – Rodríguez v. San Antonio ISD Ruling 50 Years Ago Has Lasting Effects, by Christie L. Goodman, APR, March 2023

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Classnotes Podcast Episode: The Law in Education – Rodríguez vs. San Antonio ISD, featuring Celina Moreno, J.D. and Albert Cortez, Ph.D. Or watch the conversation below.


Texas School Finance Reform: An IDRA Perspective, literally, the textbook, Dr. José A. Cárdenas (free online)

Destined to Get an Equitable System of School Funding, interview with Dr. Cárdenas, by Anna Alicia Romero, IDRA Newsletter, September 2001

Fair Funding of Schools- Why and With What Results, by Albert Cortez, Ph.D., IDRA Newsletter, May 2009

Equalizing Funding of Texas School Facilities– A Long-Standing, Long-Neglected Need, by Albert Cortez, Ph.D., IDRA Newsletter, February 2007


May 16, 1968 – Edgewood students held a walkout to protest such issues as crumbling facilities, inequitable funding, and lack of qualified teachers. Other student walkouts occurred in Teas that year through 1970.

June 30, 1968 – Edgewood District Concerned Parents Association files Rodriguez vs. San Antonio ISD lawsuit.

December 9-14, 1968 – U.S. Commission on Civil Rights’ six-day hearing in San Antonio on the civil rights issues of Mexican Americans in the southwestern United States.

December 23, 1971 – Three-judge federal court declared the Texas system of school finance unconstitutional

March 21, 1973 – U.S. Supreme Court issues a 5-4 ruling that, despite the fact that the Texas system was chaotic and unjust, it did not violate federal equal protection requirements. Thus, it was up to states to determine if their public schools were fairly funded.

May 23, 1984 – Edgewood ISD v. Kirby filed by MALDEF on behalf of Edgewood ISD and seven other districts and 21 parents. Later, 67 other school districts and more parents and students join the case.

June 1, 1987 – State district court ruling in Edgewood ISD v. Kirby finds Texas school finance system unconstitutional.

October 2, 1989 –  After an appeal reversed Edgewood ISD v. Kirby, the Texas Supreme Court rules unanimously that the Texas system is unconstitutional and orders the state to resolve the inequities.

It would take numerous legislative attempts and additional cases to get Texas where it is today.