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The Law in Education – Rodríguez vs. San Antonio ISD – Podcast Episode 233 | Classnotes Podcast 233

Podcast 233 orange graphicClassnotes Podcast (March 20, 2023). In the 1960s, students across Texas walked out of their schools to demand a strong education made possible by fair funding of schools. Some of those students were in Edgewood ISD, where parents then came together and decided to take on the system. They had a huge win when the district court ruled that the Texas system of school finance was inequitable and unconstitutional. But while the U.S. Supreme Court agreed on many fronts, it ultimately handed down a disastrous ruling, wiping its hands of any federal responsibility and forcing decades of state-level litigation.

This case is also pivotal for IDRA. Dr. José A. Cárdenas was actively involved in the school finance reform efforts since the early days of the Rodríguez vs. San Antonio ISD litigation when he was superintendent of the Edgewood ISD. As the U.S. Supreme Court considered the Rodríguez case, Dr. Cárdenas resigned from Edgewood ISD to establish IDRA to advocate school finance reform and improved educational opportunities for all students.

Dr. Albert Cortez came to IDRA two years later and worked with Dr. Cárdenas to pioneer school finance reform in Texas. Before coming to IDRA, Celina  Moreno, IDRA’s President and CEO, directed policy and litigation for the Southwest Regional Office for MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund), the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization that litigated the school finance cases that followed Rodríguez against the state of Texas.

In this special, 50th anniversary edition of the IDRA Classnotes podcast, Celina met with Cortez, who is now retired from IDRA, to discuss the history of the Rodríguez case, its impact, the litigation that was forced to follow, and how the case led to IDRA’s founding.

Show length: 46:27 min

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

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

Ensuring Fair School Funding for All Students, IDRA website

Conversation: Albert Kauffman and David Hinojosa on Texas School Finance, NowCastSA, May 18, 2016

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Show Notes

  • Albert shares how he first came to work at IDRA, joining forces with Dr. José A. Cárdenas.

  • Albert talks about the state of school funding in Edgewood ISD and the San Antonio schools in 1968, the year that the Rodríguez lawsuit was filed.

  • Albert recounts the reaction of the 1971 district court decision that found the Texas school finance system unconstitutional and ruled that education was a “fundamental right.”

  • In 1973, the Supreme Court overturned that decision, in a ruling Albert says “was an atomic bomb against equity in all states around the country.”

  • Celina and Albert discuss why the ruling betrayed the positions taken in the Brown vs. Board of Education decision of 1954.

  • Albert discusses the impact that the Rodríguez ruling has had on school funding, both inside and outside of Texas.

  • Albert talks about his partnership with Dr. Cárdenas over the years, including IDRA’s work on the Edgewood ISD vs. Kirby case and the Texas recapture program.

  • Albert closes with encouragement for listeners who want to join the fight for equitable school funding and excellence.