In the remedial phases of school finance lawsuits, courts and legislatures have sought to provide poor children access to adequate educational opportunities through remedies and reforms focusing almost exclusively on improving educational conditions within elementary and secondary schools. This approach is both inefficient and ineffective. As a large and growing body of scientific and social science research reveals, class-based disparities in quality of care and enrichment during the first years of life can have life-long effects that inhibit the ability of many poor children to succeed academically, thereby depriving them of equal and adequate access to educational opportunity. The failure to address these early-life disparities immediately greatly undermines all subsequent efforts to improve the educational opportunities and outcomes of these children. Accordingly, this Article argues that courts should require states to provide certain high-quality early childhood services, starting at birth and continuing through preschool, as remedies in educational adequacy lawsuits. Drawing evidence from evaluations of existing early childhood programs, this Article argues that such remedies offer great potential to provide disadvantaged children more meaningful access to sufficient educational opportunities. This Article also addresses several potential objections and concerns regarding early childhood remedies.
Kevin Woodson, Why Kindergarten is Too Late: The Need for Early Childhood Remedies in School Finance Litigation, 70 Ark. L. Rev. 87 (2017).