This course will survey several contemporary legal and policy problems in American elementary and secondary education, including school discipline and the rise of “Zero Tolerance” policies; bullying prevention and intervention; the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind and the Obama administration's Race to the Top initiative; the (re)segregation of historically disadvantaged groups; and the school choice movement; among others. In the context of these current education reform problems, we will encounter the role that various legal rules and doctrines (e.g., the First Amendment, the Due Process Clause, compulsory education laws, federal civil rights laws, etc.) play in shaping the structure and process of public education. Several recurring themes and questions will guide our analysis, including: Who has and who should have authority for deciding how children should be educated and what they should learn? What constitutes equal educational opportunity and what measures s hould we use to determine whether or not it exists? Similarly, how should we measure student achievement and remedy gaps that exist between the achievement levels of various subgroups? How does education policy get made and what role can and should law and lawyers play in designing solutions to problems in education policy? We will consider how courts, legislatures and other stakeholders have answered these questions and how their answers have been shaped by competing ideological narratives about the necessary and appropriate role of public education in a democracy. A major part of the grade for this course will be a small-group project and presentation that will be assigned at the beginning of the semester. There will also be a last-class take home exam. Students enrolling in this course are strongly encouraged to enroll in either the fall or spring section of the Education Law Clinic (and should do so separately through the clinical registration process).
Constitutional Law & Civil Rights
Government Structure & Function
Family, Gender & Children's Law