This introductory chapter provides an overview of the structure and main argument of the book, and situates the book at the nexus of two converging trends: the courts' increasing role in education policy and the spread of standards-based reform and accountability policies. It discusses the basic methodology underlying the analyses in the book and argues that an approach sensitive to legal rules and principles, the underlying education policy landscape, and the institutional characteristics of various governmental entities is needed for an examination of how courts have addressed standards-based reform. The chapter also discusses the courts' historical role in education policy and evidence about the effectiveness of judicial action in this field.
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