Law and Education

Course Description

In Brown v. Board of Education (1954), the Supreme Court characterized public education as “the most important function of state and local governments.” From school desegregation and funding disparities 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 next part will consider religion in American schools, studying constitutional limits on both religious activities in public education and state funding of private schools. The course will also survey key anti-discrimination statutes that protect students with disabilities (IDEA) and prohibit gender discrimination (Title IX), with attention to the profound challenge of sexual violence on college campuses. Finally, the course will look closely at race and class divides that continue to permeate American schools. In 1974, Justice Thurgood Marshall wrote, “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 — with a special focus on juvenile justice and the school to prison pipeline. This introductory course has no pre- or co-requisites, and it is intended for all students.

Current and Previous Instructors

Key to Codes in Course Descriptions

P: Prerequisite
C: Prerequisite or Concurrent Requirement
R: Recommended Prior or Concurrent Course