Complex Justice: The Case of Missouri v. Jenkins
In 1987 Judge Russell Clark mandated tax increases to help pay for improvements to the Kansas City, Missouri, School District in an effort to lure white students and quality teachers back to the inner-city district. Yet even after increasing employee salaries and constructing elaborate facilities at a cost of more than $2 billion, the district remained overwhelmingly segregated and student achievement remained far below national averages.
Just eight years later the U.S. Supreme Court began reversing these initiatives, signifying a major retreat from Brown v. Board of Education. In Kansas City, African American families opposed to the district court's efforts organized a takeover of the school board and requested that the court case be closed. Joshua Dunn argues that Judge Clark's ruling was not the result of tyrannical "judicial activism" but was rather the logical outcome of previous contradictory Supreme Court doctrines. High Court decisions, Dunn explains, necessarily limit the policy choices available to lower court judges, introducing complications the Supreme Court would not anticipate. He demonstrates that the Kansas City case is a model lesson for the types of problems that develop for lower courts in any area in which the Supreme Court attempts to create significant change. Dunn's exploration of this landmark case deepens our understanding of when courts can and cannot successfully create and manage public policy.
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1 An Even Hollower Hope?
The Ambiguous Racial History of Missouri and Kansas City
Educational Vice Becomes Legal Virtue
4 The Field of Dreams
Implementing an Educational Disaster
The Response of Kansas Citys African American Community
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2001 hereafter administration appeal argued Arthur Benson Author interview Benson interview black children black community black parents black students board members Board of Education Brown ceej Central High charter schools City’s Civil Rights Clark’s remedial Clark’s ruling Clinton Adams constitutional Court’s decision critical defendants Demps desegregation plan dismissed district court effective Eighth Circuit enrollment Eugene Eubanks federal filed funds Gary Orfield high school Ibid implement improve integration January 17 Jay Nixon Jenkins Judge Clark judicial policymaking Kansas City schools Kansas City Star KC School kcmsd Landmark Legal Foundation litigation Lynn Horsley magnet plan magnet programs magnet schools magnet-school plan Milliken Missouri naacp Newsome percent plaintiffs plan’s political problems proposed racial isolation remedial plan reported school board school system state’s student achievement suburban districts suburban school districts superintendent Supreme Court tax increase teachers tion trict violation W.D. Mo white flight white students