Hoping for fewer education policy lawsuits? I have some bad news. Expect more. I look at why in a new U.S. News & World Report column:
….To some extent, legal battles over schools are nothing new. Special education alone is responsible for the second homes and college educations of the families of education lawyers across the country. Court cases integrated schools, paved the way for federal special education law and sorted out complicated issues like student busing assignments and student free speech and Fourth Amendment rights. Lawsuits about school finance are a full employment program for education attorneys. The current United States Secretary of Education is a lawyer!
Yet today’s lawsuits are something of an evolution. These new suits are not only about fundamental rights but also about sorting out complicated and hotly debated policy questions.
This leads to cries of foul. Some conservatives don’t want courts involved in anything that smacks of policymaking. The teachers’ unions – although themselves not shy about rushing into court – find themselves disproportionately on the receiving end of this latest round of lawsuits. Suddenly judicial restraint sounds better!
Critics are likely to be disappointed. Although it’s a strategy with political and practical risks, look for more, not fewer, lawsuits as education reform evolves. Here’s why…