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Media Contacts

Robert Toutkoushian
IU School of Education

Martha McCarthy
IU School of Education

Katrina Ladwig
IU School of Education

Tracy James
IU Media Relations

School funding lawsuits: a tip sheet

EDITORS: Education funding expert Robert Toutkoushian and education law expert Martha McCarthy, both professors in the Indiana University School of Education, can discuss aspects of lawsuits that challenge how states fund education. Such a lawsuit was recently filed in Indiana.

Lawsuits that challenge how states fund education have been filed in about half of the states over the past 15 years, said Robert Toutkoushian, an associate professor in educational leadership and policy studies. "These lawsuits have been increasing in frequency during the past five years and promise to continue to grow as the 'No Child Left Behind' act places more burdens on schools to provide an adequate education for all children." Toutkoushian said such lawsuits in other states have involved a variety of approaches. The most common approach is the professional judgment model, where education stakeholders collectively decide on the inputs needed to produce an adequate education. This model often results in substantial cost estimates to states for achieving adequacy. For example, the recent adequacy case in the state of New York called for education spending increases in excess of $5 billion. Because of the large dollar amounts typically associated with adequacy lawsuits, states face difficulty enacting the judicially-prescribed remedies. In addition, the professional judgment model, as well as other approaches such as the successful schools model, the cost function approach and the evidence-based model, have all been criticized by leading educators as being deficient. Toutkoushian can be reached at 812-856-8395 or

"The lawsuit that has been filed in Indiana raises important and complex issues pertaining to how we define an adequate education and how we fund it," said Martha McCarthy, Chancellor's Professor of educational leadership and policy studies. McCarthy's major area of expertise is education law, and she authored a book on educational adequacy before the term became popular. McCarthy can be reached at 812-856-8384 or

For help in contacting these experts, contact Tracy James, 812-855-0084 and, or Katrina Ladwig, 812-856-8005 and