are likely to yield very different results. Guthrie and Rothstein, for example, are talking about providing something like $500 extra per low-income pupil whereas Duncombe and Yinger are talking about more than $5,000 extra for the same pupils—at least where they are schooled among concentrations of disadvantaged children. If the judges are to make a substantive determination of what is adequate, they will somehow have to resolve this dispute.
If this is too daunting, a different possibility is that courts will ultimately impose more of a procedural test on the legislature. For example, did the legislature reasonably (or in good faith) enact something intended to be what can fairly be called a state system? The state might demonstrate this, for example, by showing that it created a commission, called in experts, adopted educational goals, reasonably priced them out, and provided the needed funding. Of course, reasonable people may well differ on just what those goals should be and, even more so, on how much must be spent in support of them. Under the procedural approach, the court would not insist on a single resolution to the substantive issues. Rather, many schemes could pass constitutional muster. The key thing, again, would be whether the legislature engaged in a process that reasonably related the funding of schools to what had been fairly determined to be their students' actual educational needs.
One might have thought that the state constitutional requirement of a state system of education would mean just that—no local option, at least no local spending add-ons out of local wealth. This indeed may be where some state supreme courts are heading (e.g., Wyoming). It is also consistent with the outlook of those, noted earlier, who are quite unsatisfied with the leeway allowed under the wealth discrimination theory for local add-ons (even if they are wealth equalized).
But other state supreme courts have already gone out of their way to reject this restriction. Several recent opinions have either explicitly or implicitly acknowledged that local add-ons from local taxes would be permissible, but only after a true state system had first been established (Claremont v. Governor of New Hampshire, 635 A.2d 1375, N.H. 1997; Leandro v. State of North Carolina, No. 179PA96, 1997; Rose v. Council for Better Education, 790 S.W.2d 186, Ky. 1989). This latter approach is aligned with that version of the "educational adequacy" theory that rejects trying to hold down higher spending by the rich.
Adequacy notions first explicitly appeared in school finance litigation in 1976 when the New Jersey Supreme Court in Robinson v. Cahill stated that its state constitution required an education system that allowed all students to become "citizens and competitors in the labor market." Similar language was next found in the Washington Supreme Court's 1978 ruling, which declared aspects of the state's school funding system unconstitutional (Seattle v. State of Washington,