New Article: Aaron J. Curtis, Tracing the School-to-Prison Pipeline from Zero-Tolerance Policies to Juvenile Justice Dispositions, 102 Geo. L.J. 1251 (2014). Abstract below:
In recent years, schools have attempted to combat school violence and other behavioral problems by instituting harsh disciplinary policies and referring students to law enforcement. Civil rights advocates argue that these practices push students, especially students of color, “out of school and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems.” The process has come to be known as the school-to-prison pipeline.
Throughout the literature discussing this phenomenon, authors often reference juvenile justice systems in passing, but few studies have given in-depth attention to the specific practices within juvenile courts that perpetuate the school-to-prison pipeline. Accordingly, this Note takes a closer look at the connection between harsh disciplinary practices in schools and the dispositional processes that occur in juvenile justice systems. Part I examines zero-tolerance policies that push students out of schools in the first place. Part II explores the ways that students then enter juvenile courts. Part III discusses the guidelines and other factors that shape judges’ dispositional decisions, particularly when they handle minor crimes and violations of zero-tolerance policies. Finally, Part IV describes alternatives to punitive sanctions for juvenile offenders. Overall, this Note concludes that zero-tolerance policies and punitive juvenile justice dispositions fail to remedy the problems that they are meant to resolve.
Father Son Portrait. Copyright 2014.
Op-Ed: Clare Huntington, Help Families From Day 1, N.Y. Times, Sep. 2, 2014.
Good op-ed and this photo is only being used because I could not find my photo of Stapleton!
Why I’m Skipping My Harvard Reunion (A Call to Action) | Evan Mandery.
And here is a story from the Yale Alumni Magazine that is on the topic of admitting poorer (or just not rich) students. My own perspective is that there are plenty of poor students who can “handle” Yale or Harvard, the problem is what is defined as merit in the admissions process. “We can’t find them” or “we can’t get them to apply” are not good justifications for continually favoring the children of the elite. (Many of you have seen it, but here is my parody article that touches in part on going to such schools.)
New Article: Aaron N. Taylor, Reimagining Merit as Achievement, 44 N.M. L. Rev. 1 (2014). Abstract below:
Higher education plays a central role in the apportionment of opportunities within the American meritocracy. Unfortunately, narrow conceptions of merit limit the extent to which higher education broadens racial and socioeconomic opportunity. This article proposes an admissions framework that transcends these limited notions of merit. This “Achievement Framework” would reward applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds who have achieved beyond what could have reasonably been expected. Neither race nor ethnicity is considered as part of the framework; however, its nuanced and contextual structure would ensure that racial and ethnic diversity is encouraged in ways that traditional class-conscious preferences do not. The overarching goal of the framework is to help loosen the “Gordian knot” binding race to class by ensuring that higher education opportunities are apportioned in true meritocratic fashion.
New(ish) Article: Melina Angelos Healey, The School-to-Prison Pipeline Tragedy on Montana’s American Indian Reservations, 37 NYU Rev. L. & Soc. Change 671 (2013). Abstract below:
American Indian adolescents in Montana are caught in a school-to-prison pipeline. They are plagued with low academic achievement, high dropout, suspension and expulsion rates, and disproportionate contact with the juvenile and criminal justice systems. This phenomenon has been well documented in poor, minority communities throughout the country. But it has received little attention with respect to the American Indian population in Montana, for whom the problem is particularly acute. Indeed, the pipeline is uniquely disturbing for American Indian youth in Montana because this same population has been affected by another heartbreaking and related trend: alarming levels of adolescent suicides and self-harm.
The statistical evidence and tragic stories recounted in this report demonstrate beyond doubt that American Indian children on the reservations and elsewhere in Montana are moving into the school-to-prison pipeline at an alarming and tragic rate. The suicides of so many children is cause for despair, and the complicity of the education system in those deaths, whether through deliberate actions or through inattention, is cause for serious self-reflection and remediation. This article has been written in the hope that the people of Montana, government officials at all levels, teachers and school administrators, and public interest lawyers will have some of the information they need to take action. Despair, prison, and untimely death should not and need not be the ending places of public education for our most vulnerable children.
New Article: Osamudia R. James, Opt-Out Education: School Choice as Racial Subordination, 99 Iowa L. Rev. 1083 (2014). Abstract below:
Despite failure to improve academic outcomes or close the achievement gap, school-choice policies, advanced by education legislation and doctrine, have come to dominate public discourse on public education reform in the United States, with students of color disproportionately enrolling in voucher programs and charter schools. This Article moves past the typical market-based critiques of school choice to analyze the particularly racialized constraints on choice for marginalized students and their families in the public school system. The Article unpacks the blame-placing that occurs when the individualism and independence that school choice and choice rhetoric promote fail to improve academic outcomes, and the ways in which choice merely masks racial subordination and the abdication of democratic values in the school system. Students of color and their families may be opting out, but their decisions to do so neither improve public education nor reflect genuine choice. This Article ultimately argues that the values underlining school choice and choice rhetoric––like privacy, competition, independence, and liberty––are inherently incompatible with the public school system. The Article concludes by suggesting an alternate legal and rhetorical framework acknowledging the vulnerability of minority students, as well as the interdependence between white students and non- white students in the system, and it advances strict limitations on school choice, even, if necessary, in the form of compulsory universal public school education.
New Article: Joshua E. Weishart, Transcending Equality Versus Adequacy, 66 Stan. L. Rev. 477 (2014). Abstract below:
A debate about whether all children are entitled to an “equal” or an “adequate” education has been waged at the forefront of school finance policy for decades. In an era of budget deficits and harsh cuts in public education, I submit that it is time to move on.
Equality of educational opportunity has been thought to require equal spending per pupil or spending adjusted to the needs of differently situated children. Adequacy has been understood to require a level of spending sufficient to satisfy some absolute, rather than relative, educational threshold. In practice, however, many courts interpreting their states’ constitutional obligations have fused the equality and adequacy theories. Certain federal laws express principles of both doctrines. And gradually, more advocates and scholars have come to endorse hybrid equality-adequacy approaches. Still, the debate persists over seemingly intractable conceptual precepts and their political and legal ramifications.
Tracking the philosophical origins and evolution of equality and adequacy as legal doctrines, I explain the significance of their points of convergence and argue that the few points of divergence are untenable in practice. Equality of educational opportunity should not be interpreted as pursuing equal chances for educational achievement for all children, because that ideal is infeasible. Nor should educational adequacy be interpreted as completely indifferent to objectionable inequalities that can be feasibly curtailed. Properly conceived, equality and adequacy are not merely congruent but reciprocal. That is, children are owed an education that is adequately equal and equally adequate.
Photo Copyright Ezra Rosser 2013
Given that so many law professors come from either Yale or Harvard (or occasionally an elite NYC school), this article might be interesting: Jennifer Gersten, We Don’t Talk About It, Yale Daily News Magazine, Nov. 7, 2013 [about Socio-economic class at Yale].
My own related take, that many of the readers of this blog may have already seen, is in this law review parody.
The new president of Yale, Peter Salovey, also made this topic the focus of his freshman address.