Race Discrimination in Education: A Legal Perspective
James E. Ryan
University of Virginia School of Law
UVA School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 02-19
This paper was prepared for the Panel on Methods for Assessing Discrimination, National Academy of Sciences, Committee on National Statistics. It describes the formal legal definitions of race discrimination in education, demonstrates how those definitions are applied in various contexts, and highlights the role that social science evidence has played and could play in the cases. The paper argues that what currently counts as race discrimination in education and how such discrimination is proven are, from a legal perspective, at once both straightforward and complex questions. They are straightforward because the formal legal definitions are simple enough to grasp. The questions are complex because at times the formal definitions of race discrimination are modified in their application, and also because some important questions about how to apply those definitions in a particular case or context remain unanswered. The paper offers some suggestions as to how these lingering questions could be answered and describes the limited role that social science evidence could play in shaping the answers. It also highlights the irony that, under the current legal definitions of race discrimination, it is much easier to block voluntary integration efforts designed to assist minority (and white) students than it is to block practices that unintentionally disadvantage minority students.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 48working papers series
Date posted: November 30, 2002
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