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 a national expert who speaks domestically and internationally about educational equity, equal educational opportunity, civil rights and the federal role in education. Her scholarship has been published widely in leading journals and proposes innovative legal and policy solutions for ensuring that all children receive equal access to an excellent education.

In 2019, New York University Press published her second edited book, “A Federal Right to Education: Fundamental Questions for Our Democracy,” which gathers leading constitutional and education law scholars to consider the challenging questions raised by recognizing a federal right to education in the United States. In 2015, Harvard Education Press published her book that was co-edited with Professor Charles Ogletree Jr. of Harvard Law School, titled “The Enduring Legacy of Rodriguez: Creating New Pathways to Equal Educational Opportunity.” Robinson’s article, “Disrupting Education Federalism” and published in the Washington University Law Review, won the 2016 Steven S. Goldberg Award for distinguished scholarship in education law from the Education Law Association. This article argues that the United States should reconstruct its understanding of education federalism to support a national effort to ensure equal access to an excellent education.

Robinson published Fisher’s Cautionary Tale and the Urgent Need for Equal Access to an Excellent Education” in the November 2016 issue of the Harvard Law Review, which analyzes the legal and policy issues regarding the challenge to the affirmative action policy at the University of Texas in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. In 2016, she published an article in the Stanford Law and Policy Review, titled “No Quick Fix for Equity and Excellence: The Virtues of Incremental Shifts in Education Federalism,” that proposes how the federal government could incrementally increase its influence over education in ways that would promote equity and excellence in school funding. Her scholarship has appeared in the University of Chicago Law Review, Boston College Law Review, William and Mary Law Review and UC Davis Law Review, among other venues.

Robinson was a visiting professor at the George Washington University Law School in spring 2017, where she taught Race, Racism and the Law. She is a senior fellow at the Learning Policy Institute, a leading think tank on education policy, where she is working with Linda Darling-Hammond on issues related to educational access and equality.

During her time at the University of Richmond, Robinson served as chair of the law school’s Diversity Committee and co-chair of a university-wide faculty learning community on reducing implicit bias in teaching. She previously served as co-chair of the Faculty Senate’s Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Committee, where she led the drafting of recommendations for strengthening the University of Richmond’s sexual assault policy, including many recommendations that were incorporated into a revised sexual assault policy. Robinson also served as chair of a university-wide faculty learning community on reducing stereotype threat in teaching.

Prior to joining the Richmond Law faculty in 2010, Robinson was an associate professor at Emory University School of Law and a visiting fellow at George Washington University Law School. She also served in the General Counsel’s Office of the U.S. Department of Education, where she helped draft federal policy on issues of race, sex and disability discrimination. In addition, Robinson represented school districts in school finance and constitutional law litigation as an associate with Hogan & Hartson (now Hogan Lovells). She is a frequent lecturer on education law and policy issues, including serving as the dean’s distinguished lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in March 2014 and the keynote speaker at the "Is Education a Civil Right?" conference at Harvard Law School in April 2013. She also has written editorials that address national education law and policy issues, including co-authoring with Professor Charles Ogletree Jr. an article in 2017 in Education Next titled “Inequitable Schools Demand a Federal Remedy” and “Neglecting the Broken Foundation of K-12 Funding” in Education Week on May 18, 2016. Robinson organized a conference to analyze the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision in San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez in 2013.


  • 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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