Exactly what role should unelected judges play in making policies for our schools? What problems have been created? What can we expect in the future? These are the kinds of questions that University of Colorado at Colorado Springs professor Joshua Dunn addresses in a new iVoices podcast with my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow (click the play button below to listen to the 15-minute discussion):
The podcast only scratches the surface on the issue of the courts and education policy, because Joshua Dunn really knows what he’s talking about. Along with Martin West, he edited an important new book on the topic called From Schoolhouse to Courthouse — published by the Brookings Institution Press and Thomas B. Fordham Institute.
The Fordham people were nice enough to send us a copy, so I can tell you a little bit about it. From Schoolhouse to Courthouse is a compilation of essays on different issues and themes related to judicially-constructed education policy. The book covers school choice, special education, church and state issues, school finance, superintendent authority, and more. For an even quicker hit than our podcast, watch Mike Petrilli interview Martin West about the new volume.
Previously, Dunn wrote the 2008 book Complex Justice about the infamous Kansas City case where a judge ordered $2 billion spent on the schools to little or no positive effect. Interestingly, as Dunn indicates on the podcast and Alfred Lindseth and Eric Hanushek point out in a new Education Next article, federal courts may finally be getting out of the business of dictating K-12 school funding increases.
In addition to promoting two great books, one benefit of doing this podcast was to find another smart, kid-friendly education expert right here in our own great state of Colorado. I hope you check out some of Dr. Dunn’s work!