a comprehensive education reform package that could dramatically change the interaction between teacher and child in the plaintiff school districts. In that respect, the New Jersey decision is another bold step in a direction of the "adequacy" reform movement. As the court said, "Success for all will come only when the roots of the educational system—the local schools and districts, the teachers, the administrators, the parents, and the children themselves—embrace the educational opportunity encompassed by these reforms."
In Arizona, after the high court's 1994 ruling declaring that the state's system of funding capital facilities and costs was unconstitutional, the legislature and governor worked to pass a redesigned system in 1997. However, on October 24, 1997, the Supreme Court sent the legislature back to the drawing board. Facing a lower-court-imposed deadline of June 30, 1998, the legislature and governor were told once again to craft a system of funding school facilities that will ensure that all facilities in the state meet the high court's earlier articulation of adequacy.
In June 1998, the Supreme Court of Arizona for a fourth time declared that the State's recent effort to solve its equity problems with respect to school facilities was unsatisfactory. Under the court's prior rulings, the state was constitutionally compelled to establish minimum adequate standards for school facilities and provide for funding that ensures that no district is unable to meet those standards. Moreover, the state was supposed to ensure that any funding mechanism to achieve that end must not itself result in substantial disparities between districts. Like New Jersey, that decision blends an adequacy and equity component.
The recent legislation fell short of meeting the court's articulated requirements. While the state's facilities standards passed judicial scrutiny, the court found that the funding mechanism that the state adopted created substantial disparities in school districts' abilities to raise revenue for schools. The court gave the legislature 60 days in which to develop an acceptable plan for funding facilities improvements across the state.
The experience in states like Alabama, Arizona, New Jersey, and Wyoming demonstrates that there are real limits on judicial authority over the legislative process. The power of the courts is mainly the power to say no. In the end, it is the legislature (or the state department of education) that must propose and implement the reforms. Courts can threaten individual defendants. They can even threaten to close down the entire public school system, although were it necessary to carry out this threat, it would probably have a perverse impact on the objectives the courts are seeking to achieve. In any event, because of the nature of the adequacy theory, it currently seems unlikely that many courts will take over the educational system and impose their goals, their implementation strategies, and their funding mechanisms on the people of their state. It isn't so much that the courts could not turn to educational policy experts to help them make these