Wednesday, December 11, 2013
The Campaign for Educational Equity in New York has been doing some great work as of late boiling down the complexities of school finance litigation and rights in a way that is accessible to the average person. Most recently, it published Know Your Rights: Instructional Materials, which was an outgrowth of its findings from another recent report that many students were deprived of these materials, among many other things.
I highlight these materials because those of you teaching education law or policy courses may be particularly interested. In the past, I have often assigned my students to write a 5 to 10 page memorandum in my Education Law class. Their task is to identify a school district to study, learn the school finance law of that state, and make some basic assessments regarding whether they believe the school district is in compliance. Given time constrainsts and experience, students work primarily at a level of generality. But the assignment forces them to think beyond the basic holding of a school finance case. It forces them to think about the various components of a constitutional education, what types of evidence relate to those components, and gather real facts on each of these points. Those who do this well produce memoranda that are strikingly similar in form and substance to the aforementioned reports, and they leave the class with an unusual level of sophistiscation on the topic.