About Kern Alexander

Kern Alexander is Excellence Professor, College of Education, University of Illinois, Urbana/Champaign, where he teaches courses in school law, higher education law, school finance and higher education finance. He is Editor of the Journal of Education Finance distributed by the University of Illinois Press. Prior to coming to the University of Illinois he served as Professor of Educational Administration at the University of Florida for two decades, University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech for six years, and later he held the Robinson Eminent Scholar’s Chair at the University of North Florida, Jacksonville. He also served as President of Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, and President of Murray State University where he retains the title of President Emeritus.


Dr. Alexander is the author, co-author or editor of thirty books, including American Public School Law, 8th Edition, Wadsworth-Cengage Learning, The Law of Schools, Students and Teachers, 4th Edition, West Publishing Company, and Public School Finance, Simon & Schuster.

President Bill Clinton spoke of Dr. Alexander in his autobiography, My Life, referring to him as “a nationally recognized expert in education policy.” Dr. Alexander has served as a consultant and court expert in education litigation in twenty-two states. In the landmark case of DeRolph v. State of Ohio, the Supreme Court of Ohio relied for guidance on Alexander’s interpretation of the Ohio Constitution’s language (1851), that required the state legislature to establish a “thorough and efficient” system of education. The Supreme Court opinion, holding for the plaintiff children from poor school districts, said:

“Dr Samuel Alexander, a leading professor in the area of school law and school finance, testified that, “In the context of the historical development of the phrase “thorough and efficient,” it is the state’s duty to provide a system which allows its citizens to fully develop their human potential. In such a system, rich and poor people alike are given the opportunity to become educated so that they may flourish and our society may progress. It was believed by the leading statesmen of the time that only in this way could there be an efficient educational system throughout the state.” (DeRolph v. State of Ohio, 677 N.E. 2d 733 (1997).

Earlier, in 1989, the Supreme Court of Kentucky, in a case that lawyers and school finance experts consider to be a watershed regarding a state legislature’s responsibility to provide for adequate funding for public schools, followed Alexander’s definition of the Kentucky constitutional provision that requires the General Assembly to provide for an “efficient” system of common schools. The Court quoted Alexander, saying:

“Dr Kern Alexander opined that an efficient system is one which is unitary. It is one in which there in uniformity throughout the state. It is one in which equality is a hallmark and one in which students must be giving equal educational opportunities, regardless of economic status, or place of residence. He also testified that “efficient” involves pay and training of teachers, school buildings, other teaching staff, materials and adequacy of all education resources. Moreover, he, like Dr. Salmon, believed that “efficient” also applies to the quality of management of schools. Summarizing Dr. Alexander’s opinion, an efficient system is unitary, uniform, adequate and properly managed.” Rose v. Council for Better Education, Inc., 790 S.W. 2d 186 (1989).

He holds postgraduate diplomas from Indiana University, Bloomington, and the University of Oxford, Pembroke College, England, Department of Educational Studies (with distinction), Two dissertations (See "Judicial Review of Educational Policy: The Teaching of Tameside", British Journal of Educational Studies, Vol XXVI, No. 3, 1978.