What ideal should guide a state’s provision of primary and secondary schooling, equality or adequacy? Should all children receive equal educational opportunities? Or is the state’s obligation to ensure that all children receive enough or an adequate education?
The obvious backdrop for this question is the unquestioned significance of education in the modern world. Compulsory education laws were enacted in California in 1872. But as recently as 1950, only one third of Americans 25 years and older had attained a high school degree. In 2000, the percentage was 85%. California was far ahead of the curve in 1950, with nearly half of its population 25 years and older with a high school degree; in 2000 California lagged behind the national average, with only 77% attaining a high school diploma.