Kimberly J. Robinson

  • Elizabeth D. and Richard A. Merrill Professor of Law
  • Professor of Education, Curry School of Education
  • Professor of Law, Education and Public Policy, Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy

Kimberly Jenkins Robinson is the Elizabeth D. and Richard A. Merrill Professor at the University of Virginia School of Law as well as a professor at both the School of Education and Human Development, and the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia. She is an expert who speaks throughout the United States about K-20 educational equity, equal opportunity, civil rights and federalism.

In 2019, the New York University Press published the edited volume “A Federal Right to Education: Fundamental Questions for Our Democracy.” In that book, Robinson brought together some of the nation’s leading law and education scholars to examine why the United States should consider recognizing a federal right to education, how the United States could recognize such a right and what the right should guarantee. In 2015, Harvard Education Press published her co-edited book with Professor Charles Ogletree Jr. of Harvard Law School, “The Enduring Legacy of Rodriguez: Creating New Pathways to Equal Educational Opportunity.” Contributing scholars analyzed the impact of the 1972 U.S. Supreme Court decision San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez, which held that the Constitution does not protect a right to education. Her scholarship has been published widely in leading journals, including the Harvard Law Review, the Stanford Law & Policy Review, the University of Chicago Law Review, the North Carolina Law Review and the Boston College Law Review.  

A member of the American Law Institute, Robinson serves on the advisory boards for both Georgetown University’s Edunomics Lab National Education Resource Database on Schools, and the Gates Foundation’s Intradistrict Resource Inequity Project. 

She is the 2016 recipient of the Steven S. Goldberg Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Education Law from the Education Law Association for “Disrupting Education Federalism,” which was published in the Washington University Law Review.

Before Robinson began her career as a professor, she practiced law in the General Counsel’s Office of the U.S. Department of Education and as an education litigation attorney with the law firm Hogan & Hartson (now Hogan Lovells). She also served as a clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. 

Robinson graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School and with a B.A. in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia, where she was an Echols Scholar and a recipient of the University Achievement Award.


  • J.D.
    Harvard Law School
  • B.A.
    University of Virginia

Articles and Book Chapters

“Restructuring the Elementary and Secondary Education Act’s Approach to Equity,” 103 U. Minn. L. Rev. 915 (2018).

Fisher’s Cautionary Tale and the Urgent Need for Equal Access to an Excellent Education,” 130 Harv. L. Rev. 185 (2016) (invited).

“No Quick Fix for Funding Equity and Excellence: The Virtues of Incremental Shifts in Education Federalism,” 27 Stan. J. L. & Pol’y 201 (2016) (invited).

“Disrupting Education Federalism,” 92 Wash. U. L. Rev. 959 (2015) (lead article) (cited in U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Public Education Funding Inequity in an Era of Increasing Concentration of Poverty and Resegregation (2018)).

“The High Cost of Education Federalism,” 48 Wake Forest L. Rev. 287 (2013) (invited symposium).

“The Past, Present and Future of Equal Educational Opportunity: A Call for a New Theory of Education Federalism,” 79 U. Chi. L. Rev. 427 (2012) (reviewing James E. Ryan, Five Miles Away, A World Apart: One City, Two Schools, and the Story of Educational Opportunity in Modern America (2011)) (invited).

“Resurrecting the Promise of Brown: Understanding and Remedying How the Supreme Court Reconstitutionalized Segregated Schools,” 88 N.C. L. Rev. 787 (2010) (invited symposium).

“The Constitutional Future of Race-Neutral Efforts to Achieve Diversity and Avoid Racial Isolation in Elementary and Secondary Schools,” 50 B.C. L. Rev. 277 (2009) (lead article).

“A Proposal for Collaborative Enforcement of a Right to Education,” in Martha Albertson Fineman & Karen Worthington, eds., What Is Right for Children?: The Competing Paradigms of Religion and Human Rights 205 (2009).

“The Case for a Collaborative Enforcement Model for a Federal Right to Education,” 40 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 1653 (2007).

“Constitutional Lessons for the Next Generation of Public Single-Sex Elementary and Secondary Schools,” 47 Wm. & Mary L. Rev. 1953 (2006).

Commentaries, Encyclopedia Entries and Other Publications

“Inequitable Schools Demand a Federal Remedy,” Educ. Next, Spring 2017, at 55.

“Neglecting the Broken Foundation of K-12 Funding” (with Charles J. Ogletree, Jr.), Educ. Wk., May 18, 2016, at 26–27.

Brown at 50: The ‘Pay Later’ Approach to U.S. Education,” Guest Columnist, Richmond Times-Dispatch, May 18, 2014.

“The Wake-Up Call within the Supreme Court’s Affirmative Action Decisions,” Guest Columnist, Richmond Times-Dispatch, April 27, 2014.

“Education, Discrimination in: Overview, in Richard A. Shweder, ed., The Child: An Encyclopedic Companion 295 (2008).

Note, “An Evidentiary Framework for Diversity as a Compelling Interest in Higher Education,” 109 Harv. L. Rev. 1357 (1996).

Recent Case, “Fourth Circuit Finds University of Maryland Minority Scholarship Program Unconstitutional, Podberesky v. Kirwan,” 108 Harv. L. Rev. 1773 (1995).



Current Courses

All Courses

Law, Inequality, and Education Reform
Education Law Survey
Race, Education and Opportunity



Fundamental Questions for Our Democracy Regarding a Federal Right to Education

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