Sheff, Segregation, and School Finance Litigation
James E. Ryan
In this Essay, Professor Ryan uses a recent decision by the Connecticut Supreme Court, Sheff v. O’Neill, to explore both the limits and the possibilities of school finance litigation, and to begin an examination of the relationship between school finance and desegregation. Using Sheff as his starting point, Professor Ryan contends that school “finance” litigation need not, and perhaps should not, be solely about money. He suggests that Sheff and the experience of the Hartford schools provide strong evidence of the limited efficacy of increased expenditures in racially and socioeconomically isolated schools. Professor Ryan then explains how the underlying right recognized in school finance cases–the right to an adequate or equal education–can support alternative claims for relief. Specifically, he suggests that these rights can support such nonmonetary remedies as racial and socioeconomic integration and school choice.