Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Law and School Reform

Law and School Reform: Six Strategies for Promoting Educational Equity

Edited by Jay P. Heubert
Copyright Date: 1999
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 448
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Law and School Reform
    Book Description:

    Nearly every effort to reform American public education during the past half-century has involved the law. Partnerships and tensions between lawyers, educators, parents, and scholars have never been more central to the future shape and direction of our schools. This powerful book examines six of the most important and controversial school reform initiatives: school desegregation, school finance reform, special education, education of immigrant children, integration of youth services, and enforceable performance mandates. The contributors-leading authorities in the fields of education and law-examine these reform efforts from the perspectives of law, education, research, and practice. The authors trace the evolution of these reform strategies over time. They also explore ways in which lawyers, educators, scholars, and parents, through improved collaboration, and promising new approaches, can promote school reform and educational equity more effectively in the future.Assuming no special background, this engaging and accessible book has been written for educators, lawyers, policymakers, parents, and all readers concerned with education in America.Contributors to this volume:Jay P. Heubert; Gary Orfield; Molly McUsic; Carola and Marcelo Suarez-Orozco; Peter Roos; Thomas Hehir; Sue Gamm; Martin Gerry; Paul Weckstein.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14773-5
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-xii)
    Harold Howe II

    This book tells the story of the growing involvement of lawyers in America’s public schools in the past half century—why they were needed, what they did, and their possible future roles in improving learning, especially for America’s least fortunate children. It reaches, also, to the complexity and promise of partnerships between educators and lawyers. If you have ever wanted to understand the critical role that lawyers and the law play in school reform, you hold in your hands the only book I know that explains the subject, and in terms that make sense to educators and other nonlawyers.


  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
    Jay P. Heubert
  5. Chapter 1 Six Law-Driven School Reforms: Developments, Lessons, and Prospects
    (pp. 1-38)
    Jay P. Heubert

    In its 1954Browndecision, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized that certain educational policies and practices sanctioned by law can “affect [children’s] hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone” (Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka,1954, 494). This holds true not only for minority children but for immigrant children, poor children, and children with disabilities as well. In the words of journalist John Merrow,

    There were no “good old days” in special education. . . . Burned into my memory is the image of one young man, a quadriplegic with cerebral palsy. Abandoned by his...

  6. Chapter 2 Conservative Activists and the Rush Toward Resegregation
    (pp. 39-87)
    Gary Orfield

    In 1994, as the United States celebrated the fortieth anniversary ofBrown v. Board of Education,the most famous court decision in the twentieth century, the courts were in the process of dismantling desegregated education, and educational leaders in many communities were working to return to segregated neighborhood schools. During decades of struggle for desegregation the lower federal courts had usually moved slowly, often delaying even token desegregation for a decade or more. During the civil rights era, educational leaders in most communities had fought desegregation and tried to shift the entire responsibility to the courts. No major urban school...

  7. Chapter 3 The Law’s Role in the Distribution of Education: The Promises and Pitfalls of School Finance Litigation
    (pp. 88-159)
    Molly S. McUsic

    Every school child in the country, it seems, has an innate sense of distributive justice. Whether the decision is who gets to keep a newfound tennis ball, who gets the better half of an ice cream sandwich, or who has to be “it” in a game of tag, the kids in the schoolyard are adept in developing just methods for dividing their small society’s goods. Perhaps less just than the children’s methods for deciding who gets what in the schoolyard are their parents’ methods for deciding who gets what schoolyard—and the academic and career opportunities that go along with...

  8. Chapter 4 Cultural, Educational, and Legal Perspectives on Immigration: Implications for School Reform
    (pp. 160-204)
    Marcelo Suárez-Orozco, Peter D. Roos and Carola Suárez-Orozco

    Nationwide, “first- and second-generation immigrant children are the most rapidly growing segment of the U.S. child population” (Landale and Oropesa 1995, I). This influx of linguistic and ethnic minority children has significantly affected the country’s public school system. Not surprisingly, schools have been largely unprepared to service these new students. Historically, schools have floundered in the servicing of non-mainstream minority and poor children and they have been even less able to provide adequate education to linguistic minority children.

    Concurrently with this swift demographic shift, a nationwide preoccupation with school reform has occurred. A number of restructuring and school reform attempts...

  9. Chapter 5 Special Education: From Legalism to Collaboration
    (pp. 205-243)
    Thomas Hehir and Sue Gamm

    “I deal more with lawyers than I do with teachers!” said an exasperated special education director in an affluent community, describing how a large portion of his time was taken up with managing due process hearings. Another director of special education in a large urban system where parents simply did not have access to attorneys nevertheless spent a good part of his time resolving a class-action suit brought on behalf of all the children in the district. Indeed, the legal system has had a greater effect on special education than on any other area of schooling.

    The positive effects of...

  10. Chapter 6 Service Integration and Beyond: Implications for Lawyers and Their Training
    (pp. 244-305)
    Martin Gerry

    For almost three decades, educators, policymakers, and lawyers have attempted to create comprehensive infrastructures of supports and services in order to advance the healthy development and learning of various groups of American children.¹ Using one or more “service integration” approaches, they have sought to coordinate a variety of categorical grant programs and to effectively integrate these services with those provided by the public schools. This strategy has not yielded a universal infrastructure of child and family supports and services and appears unlikely to do so in the foreseeable future. The time has come to consider seriously more fundamental system reform...

  11. Chapter 7 School Reform and Enforceable Rights to Quality Education
    (pp. 306-389)
    Paul Weckstein

    Normally, we expect that when desire, know-how, and authority converge, things get done. So imagine that the great majority of families in the United States strongly wanted something from their local governments, that there was broad agreement that those families should have it, that there was substantial knowledge about how to provide it, and, finally, that local governments were not merely authorized but actually required to provide it. You would probably assume that this area of public policy would be largely resolved—until told that “it” in this case is high-quality public education.

    This essay is driven by six basic...

  12. Afterword: Reform Law and Schools
    (pp. 390-393)
    Martha Minow

    We are in the midst of a wave of school reform, a reprieve actually from the disillusionment and frustration generated by the last wave.

    The last wave started, many observe, when the launch of the Soviet Sputnik satellite stimulated fears that American education was failing to prepare Americans for global competition. Public will sponsored federal dollars and experimental curricula in public schools. This coincided with more vigorous enforcement of the desegregation mandate. In addition, young men seeking to avoid the draft or exercising conscientious objection became teachers, usually for a short time, but long enough to excite classrooms with new...

  13. List of Contributors
    (pp. 394-396)
  14. Index
    (pp. 397-423)