Protecting a Federal Right to Educational Equality and Adequacy
Forthcoming in Thoughts on a Federal Right to Education (Kimberly Jenkins Robinson, ed., NYU Press, 2019)
17 Pages Posted: 3 May 2018 Last revised: 7 Oct 2018
Date Written: April 28, 2018
A federal right to education is legally viable provided it reconciles children’s equality and liberty interests and overcomes the remedial challenges that have afflicted the state constitutional right to education. Decades of state court adjudication suggests the right is properly construed to moderate the demands of educational equity and adequacy, as fonts of equality and liberty. Courts thus recognize that differently-situated children should be treated as equals according to their needs so as to cultivate their positive freedoms to become full and equal citizens. The resulting claim for equal liberty entitles children to an equally adequate, adequately equal education. A federal right to education could unify both dimensions by implicating U.S. constitutional guarantees of substantive due process and equal protection. The union of these doctrines is the site of judicially enforceable standards to protect children from the harms of educational deprivations and disparities.
Keywords: right to education, substantive due process, equal protection, educational equality, adequacy, equity, equal liberty, state constitution, school finance litigation, school funding
JEL Classification: I22, I24, I29, K39, K41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation