The Supreme Court has characterized public education as “the most important function of state and local governments.” From funding disparities and school desegregation to student speech and school prayer, the law has performed a vital role in shaping the character and course of American education. This introductory course will explore the special issues — statutory, constitutional, and public policy — that arise at the intersection of law and education. The first part will examine the constitutional free speech and privacy rights of students, focusing on issues like student protests and drug testing. The second part will consider religion in American schools, studying constitutional limits on both religious activities in public education and state funding of private schools. The next part will survey several federal statutes that affect American education, from President Bush’s No Child Left Behind and President Obama’s Race to the Top to federal laws that protect students with disabilities (IDEA) and prohibit gender discrimination (Title IX). Finally, the course will look closely at race and class divides that permeate American schools. In 1973, Justice Thurgood Marshall described public education as “the right of every American to an equal start in life.” A year later, he cautioned, “unless our children begin to learn together, there is little hope that our people will ever learn to live together.” In this context, the course will consider what progress has been made and what challenges endure — and the role the courts have played in this winding history. This introductory course has no pre- or co-requisites, and it is intended for students of all years (including 1Ls).
Current & Previous Instructors:
|This course is not currently scheduled.|
Last offered Spring 2013.