constitutional authority to adjudicate an adequacy claim at all. 113 The plaintiffs also argued that
the final line of Article X, Section 1, added at the 1970 Constitutional Convention, required the
state to be the primary source of funding for public schools. 114
The court first determined the meaning of “efficient” in Article X. 115 Examining the
1970 Constitutional Convention record, the court found that the delegates did not intend for
“efficient” to mean “equal,” and instead simply wanted the word to retain the limited meaning it
had taken on since it was first used in Article VIII of the 1870 constitution. 116 The court further
found that opinions in other states addressing this issue, including many of the most significant
plaintiff victories following Rodriguez, were inapposite to the case at hand or wrongly decided. 117
Thus, Article X’s use of “efficiency” could not be read to guarantee equal educational funding. 118
The court next turned to the final sentence in Article X, Section 1—“[t]he State has the
primary responsibility for financing the system of public education.” 119 The court noted that the
line was added only after two alternative proposals—both of which explicitly delegated funding
responsibilities to the state and limited local property tax funding—were voted down by the
delegates. 120 Moreover, the court noted that the delegate who proposed the language intended
merely "to put the Convention on record” (in other words, to put the Convention on notice that a
change needed to be made), and that the line was “only to express a goal or objective, and not to
state a specific command." 121 As such, the sentence did not provide a legal basis to challenge the
state’s funding system. 122
Finally, the court analyzed the plaintiffs’ adequacy claim—that they were being denied a
“high quality” education.123 The court noted that the 1870 education article had originally
assigned responsibility for providing public education to the “General Assembly,” or state
legislature.124 Even though the 1970 Convention delegates substituted “the state” for “General
Assembly,” the court found that Article X retained the 1870 draft’s limited jurisdiction for
courts.125 The court also applied the United States Supreme Court’s political question test,
113 Edgar, 672 N.E.2d at 1183. Following Rodriguez, most successful state-level education funding cases made adequacy arguments
alleging students in poor districts were being deprived of some base level of educational opportunity. See Brooker, supra note 39, at
187-89 (noting that most cases arguing equal protection claims failed, whereas plaintiffs scored major victories under adequacy claims
in Montana, Kentucky, and Texas); see, e.g., Rose v. Council for Better Educ., 790 S. W.2d 186, 201, 210 (Ky. 1989).
114 Edgar, 672 N.E.2d at 1190 (“[P]laintiffs stress that while the 1870 Constitution specified that the General Assembly shall provide a
system of public schools, the 1970 Constitution expressly places that duty on the State.”); see also BURESH, supra note 2, at 84-86,
114-18 (summarizing the debate over Article X’s final sentence).
115 Edgar, 672 N.E.2d at 1185-86.
116 Id. at 1186. Before the 1970 Constitutional Convention, the Court’s interpretation of “efficient” in the 1870 education clause held
that issues of education “efficiency” could only be determined by the state legislature, with the narrow exception that courts could
judge whether school boundaries were drawn efficiently in terms of geography. Id.; see, e.g., People ex rel. Cmty. Unit Sch. Dist. No.
5 v. Decatur Sch. Dist. No. 61, 203 N.E.2d 423, 424-25 (Ill. 1964); People v. Deatherage, 81 N.E.2d 581, 586 (Ill. 1948).
117 Edgar, 672 N.E.2d at 1188-89. The Court further emphasized its negative view of recent education funding litigation by finding
Abbott v. Burke (in which the New Jersey Supreme Court invalidated the state’s funding system following several years of stalled
legislative reform efforts) was simply decided incorrectly. Id. at 1188.
118 Id. at 1186.
119 Id. at 1186-87.
120 Id. at 1186.
121 Id. at 1187.
122 Id. See infra Part IV-B for an analysis of the 1970 Constitutional Convention record.
123 Edgar, 672 N.E.2d at 1189. The plaintiff’s central argument was that Article X’s assertion that “the state” was responsible for
providing an efficient system of public schools placed responsibility for maintaining high quality schools on all three branches of the
government. Id. at 1190-91. As such, the plaintiffs argued, ruling on the adequacy of public education would fit squarely within the
court’s jurisdiction. Id.
125 Id. at 1190 (“Courts may not legislate in the field of public education any more than they may legislate in any other area. . . . Courts
are no more capable of defining ‘high quality educational institutions and services’ under our present constitution than they were able
to define a ‘good common school education’ under the 1870 Constitution.”).