This book brings together an array of leading scholars to engage three critical questions surrounding the current debate over a federal right to education. First, should the United States recognize such a right? The authors of part 1 collectively answer this question as they weigh the arguments for and against. They paint a picture of crippling inequality within our schools—sharing accounts of massive racial and socioeconomic disparities along the way—which compels them to form a nearly unanimous consensus that a federal right to education would reap important benefits for all students. But even assuming this is true, a second question remains as to how the United States could establish such a right. Accordingly, the authors of part 2 explore three different mechanisms for establishing a federal right: implying the right through the Constitution, enacting the right in federal law, or adopting it through a constitutional amendment. Finally, if a federal right to education is recognized, what should it guarantee? The authors of part 3 confront this critical substantive question by weaving novel policy solutions together with evidence-based reforms to present options for ensuring that a federal right to education encompasses the tools and policy levers that are necessary to accomplish the goals that reformers espouse. Their proposals also provide key insights for impactful reforms for state courts interpreting education rights as well state lawmakers seeking to improve educational opportunities and outcomes. In response to these and other fundamental questions about the vast opportunity and achievement gaps of American schoolchildren, this volume builds on the current dialogue—both political and scholarly—that contends that education is the critical civil rights issue of our time.
Kimberly J. Robinson, ed., A Federal Right to Education: Fundamental Questions for Our Democracy, NYU Press (2019).