Category Archives: Education

News Coverage: Number of Homeless Students Rises to New High, Report Says

News Coverage: Mihir Zaveri, Number of Homeless Students Rises to New High, Report Says, N.Y. Times, Feb. 3, 2020.

News Coverage: Barriers to Mobility: Why Higher Ed’s Promise Remains Unfulfilled

News Coverage: Kevin Van Aelst, Barriers to Mobility: Why Higher Ed’s Promise Remains Unfulfilled, Chronicle of Higher Education, Dec. 31, 2019.

New Article: Education as Property

New Article: LaToya Baldwin Clark, Education as Property, 105 Va. L. Rev. 397 (2019). Abstract below:

In 2014, a Latino family living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania conceded in a plea bargain that they had illegally enrolled their daughter in a suburban Philadelphia school district by faking residency. Risa Vetri Ferman, a suburban-Philadelphia district attorney, had previously concluded that the family “essentially stole from every hard-working taxpayer who resides within the Lower Moreland School District.” As a result, Ferman pursued charges against the Garcias, seeking that they reimburse the district for the cost of educating their daughter and serve jail time for their transgression.

Ferman is not alone. School districts and district attorneys across the country have pursued criminal or civil penalties against parents for enrolling their children in a school district in which neither the child nor parent resides. The concept that education can be stolen by outsiders brings together multiple strains of law—criminal, education, local government, and property—to allow private parties to think of public, geographically bound resources as their private property that deserves law enforcement protection. In this Article, I engage not with the fact that parents are illegally enrolling their children in school districts in which they do not reside, but with the notion that accusing a family engaged in this behavior of “stealing” allows the accusers to claim education as private. The end result is a regime of surveillance, discipline, and punishment that reproduces race and class stratification.

New Book: Getting By: Economic Rights and Legal Protections for People with Low Income

New Book: Helen Hershkoff & Stephen Loffredo, Getting By: Economic Rights and Legal Protections for People with Low Income (Oxford University Press 2020). Overview below:

Getting By offers an integrated, critical account of the federal laws and programs that most directly affect poor and low-income people in the United States-the unemployed, the underemployed, and the low-wage employed, whether working in or outside the home.

The central aim is to provide a resource for individuals and groups trying to access benefits, secure rights and protections, and mobilize for economic justice.

The topics covered include cash assistance, employment and labor rights, food assistance, health care, education, consumer and banking law, housing assistance, rights in public places, access to justice, and voting rights.

This comprehensive volume is appropriate for law school and undergraduate courses, and is a vital resource for policy makers, journalists, and others interested in social welfare policy in the United States.

News Coverage: A Raw Look at Harvard’s Affirmative Action For White Kids

News Coverage: Kevin Drum,  A Raw Look at Harvard’s Affirmative Action For White Kids, Mother Jones, September 23, 2019.

New Paper: Legacy and Athlete Preferences at Harvard

New Paper: Peter Arcidiacono, Josh Kinsler, and Tyler Ransom, [Legacy and Athlete Preferences at Harvard], National Bureau of Economic Research, September 2019.

Abstract below:

The lawsuit Students For Fair Admissions v. Harvard University provided an unprecedented look at how an elite school makes admissions decisions. Using publicly released reports, we examine the preferences Harvard gives for recruited athletes, legacies, those on the dean’s interest list, and children of faculty and staff (ALDCs). Among white admits, over 43% are ALDC. Among admits who are African American, Asian American, and Hispanic, the share is less than 16% each. Our model of admissions shows that roughly three quarters of white ALDC admits would have been rejected if they had been treated as white non-ALDCs. Removing preferences for athletes and legacies would significantly alter the racial distribution of admitted students, with the share of white admits falling and all other groups rising or remaining unchanged.

News Coverage: I Was a Low-Income College Student. Classes Weren’t the Hard Part.

News Coverage: Anthony Abraham Jack, I Was a Low-Income College Student. Classes Weren’t the Hard Part., The New York Times Magazine, September 10, 2019. Schools must learn that when you come from poverty, you need more than financial aid to succeed.

Article: Competitive Coping Strategies in the American Legal Academy: An Empirical Study

Article: Bernard A. Burk, Jerome M. Organ and Emma B. Rasiel, Competitive Coping Strategies in the American Legal Academy: An Empirical Study, 19 Nev. L. J. 583 (2018). Abstract below:

Many casual observers of the American legal academy are aware of the substantial falloff in both the number and the conventional qualifications of applicants to law school that began after 2010. But few appreciate how widespread and serious its effects have been. For the vast majority of law schools, those effects have been somewhere between significant and devastating.

From academic years 2010–11 through 2016–17, the number of unique applicants to accredited law schools fell 36 percent, and the number of applications fell 44 percent, while students with the best conventional qualifications disproportionately stayed away. The effects on the academy have been profound, and sectors of the academy distinguished by their relative overall reputation for quality have reacted differently. Beyond the strongest law schools, many shrank their entering classes by between a third and a half, and dropped 15 LSAT percentiles at the median. We estimate that aggregate annual tuition revenue for all accredited American law schools fell over $1.5 billion from its inflation-adjusted peak in 2011–12.

Generally we found, as might be expected, that the weaker a law school’s relative reputation for overall quality (“Reputation”), the more difficulty it had attracting students with the credentials it sought, so that as Reputation decreased, entering-class credentials (“Profile”), entering-class Size, and average tuition actually paid (“Net Tuition”) also decreased. But this general and unsurprising finding came with some surprising variations and exceptions. These results lead to four observations with important implications for the legal academy:

First, Reputationally Stronger law schools generally chose to preserve entering-class Profile, even when they had to shrink class Size or discount tuition to do so. This strategic drive to keep Profile up at the expense of Size meant thousands of viable candidates remained available to other law schools, effectively preventing the closing of as many as twenty Reputationally Weaker schools.

Second, by shrinking class Size and reducing Net Tuition to keep up their entering-class Profile, many law schools sacrificed millions of dollars of Tuition Revenue. As a practical matter, then, law schools “invested” in Profile rather than in expanding their faculties, their facilities, or their access to clinical and experiential education. We encourage discussion of the implications of this investment choice.

Third, some Reputationally Weaker law schools perversely were able to maintain or raise their average Net Tuition, while many law schools with stronger Reputations found themselves forced to reduce average Net Tuition more aggressively. Because discounts at any specific law school, and more generally across all law schools, tend to flow to stronger students, the students with the least promising prospects for obtaining or making any economically sustainable use of their law degrees are paying the highest prices to obtain them. These inequalities expanded significantly after 2010.

Fourth and finally, because both Tuition Revenue and Profile decreased at many law schools, the distance between student needs and school resources has widened—millions of dollars in forgone Tuition Revenue are unavailable to meet the needs of students who at many law schools are significantly less prepared and qualified than their predecessors. The decreases in Bar Examination performance nationwide from 2014 to 2016 are a likely consequence of this growing incongruity.


New Book: Holes in the Safety Net: Federalism and Poverty

I’m excited to share that Holes in the Safety Net: Federalism and Poverty (Ezra Rosser ed., Cambridge University Press, 2019) has just been published and is now available. As can be seen in the list of chapters below, the book has a great group of contributors:

Introduction by Ezra Rosser

Part I: Welfare and Federalism

Federalism, Entitlement, and Punishment across the US Social Welfare State by Wendy Bach

Laboratories of Suffering: Toward Democratic Welfare Governance by Monica Bell, Andrea Taverna, Dhruv Aggarwal, and Isra Syed

The Difference in Being Poor in Red States Versus Blue States by Michele Gilman

Part II: States, Federalism, and Antipoverty Efforts

States’ Rights and State Wrongs: Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program Work Requirements in Rural America by Rebecca H. Williams and Lisa R. Pruitt

State and Local Tax Takeaways by Francine J. Lipman

Early Childhood Development and the Replication of Poverty by Clare Huntington

States Diverting Funds from the Poor by Daniel Hatcher

States’ Evolving Role in the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program by David A. Super

Part III: Advocacy

Federalism in Health Care Reform by Nicole Huberfeld

Poverty Lawyering in the States by Andrew Hammond

Conclusion: A Way Forward by Peter Edelman

Though it will be a year before a cheaper paperback option is sold, the hardback version of the book mainly targeted at libraries is now available. Here is the publisher’s page on the book, and here is the Amazon page. Please check it out and consider forwarding a request to your school’s librarian to get a copy of the book. The chapters really are great!

That is the main message, but I think it is within my fair use rights to share the book’s Acknowledgments’ page below because the first part of it speaks to the poverty law community generally:

This book is a product of the poverty law scholarly community. I would not have considered working on it if I had not been confident that I would find a great group of scholars willing to participate in this project. This is my third collaborative poverty law book project and it truly is wonderful to be part of a community that is primarily motivated by concern for the poor. My confidence was justified and I would like to thank especially the great group of contributors who wrote chapters for this book.

This book grew out of a conference hosted by American University Washington College of Law (WCL). I would like to thank Dean Camille Nelson, as well as Jennifer Dabson, Shayan Davoudi, and Karina Wegman for their support not only of the biannual poverty law conference but also of the Economic Justice Program at WCL. Daniel Hatcher’s eye-opening book, The Poverty Industry: The Exploitation of America’s Most Vulnerable Citizens (2016), inspired both that conference and this edited volume. Hatcher’s book is well worth reading in its own right.

I would like to give a special shout-out to my phenomenal research assistant, Oliver Jury. Often it was Oliver who caught the stray period mark or came up with the best way to fix a troublesome sentence. His attention to detail and skills as a writer are truly impressive.

Finally, I owe a big thank you to all those who cared for my young children while I worked on this project. In the United States, I want to thank Glenda, Onestina, and the staff at Play, Work or Dash; in El Salvador, thanks to my mother-in-law and to Elba. And everywhere, at all points in time, and for everything, thanks to Elvia. This book is dedicated to our children, Mateo and Mario. May they realize both the value of hard work and tremendous privileges they enjoy, and may their lives be filled with happiness and meaning. Un fuerte abrazo.

Thanks again to the contributors and to the larger community. And I hope you get a chance to read the many great chapters in the book.

New Op-Ed: The Meritocracy Is Under Siege

New Op-Ed: Thomas B. Edsall, The Meritocracy Is Under Siege,, June 12, 2019. Are we merely reproducing privilege or is there something to salvage in the system we have now?