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The Education Law Personal Statement

For over around 25 years, I have stayed current on most of the news coming out of Africa, Asia, and Latin America; and I have studied world religions and cultures extensively for decades. Published in Spanish in the areas of history and gender studies, it is a special honor for me to help applicants of color and aspirants from the Developing World.

A Brief Overview of Education Law & Professional Ethics

While every American has the basic right to a public education, the inflation of private school and higher education costs has made it more difficult for many American students to advance their studies without accruing considerable debt. Theoretically, education law mandates should also protect underserved populations, providing them with equal access to the resources they need to succeed in their studies, such as library books, information technology services, and after school support. Education law, in theory, should also protect teachers and educators by additionally providing them with the resources they need. While costs continue to be a problem, the unequal distribution of school funding remains an issue: just and fair funding should be provided in relativity to students' needs. Funding plays an important role when it comes to providing a sustainable salary for teachers. Within the past decade, teachers’ salaries have remained stagnant on a national level, creating hostility among teachers and parents. As a result, many teachers are leaving their schools to seek jobs with higher salaries, which, in turn leaves schools with either a shortage of teachers, underqualified educators, or both.

Introduction to Special Education Law

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Introduction to Education Law: Principles, Policies, and Practice, by John Dayton.

Aside from the obvious need for equality in educational settings and respect for the rights of minority groups, clients are now demanding more diverse law firms, and corporate firms hiring service providers are actually required to ensure contractors run companies that more accurately reflect the diversity of the wider community.

Despite the relatively constant influx of applications to law school by African Americans and Mexican Americans during the last decade and increased law school class sizes, a recent study showed that just 6% of the total number of students admitted to one well-known Law School were African American, and this trend is not uncommon. 13.2% of the U.S. population is now African American, while 17.1% are Hispanic and Latino. Rigorous measures must be taken if numbers are to reflect the wider U.S. population.

The Humanitarian Side of a Degree in Education Law

Jenny Chou defends children as an education lawyer. This could be an extremely interesting area that could lead to a humanitarian career. It is also a very relevant area of study to the times we are living in.

In a widely reported incident in 2009, a 6-year-old in Maryland was suspended from school. His offense: bringing a camping fork-spoon-knife utensil to school to use at lunch. In Pennsylvania, a high school student picked up an object off the floor, and was expelled because the object was a knife. In each case, the student ran afoul of the school district’s “zero-tolerance’’ policy on the possession of weapons in school: the question is, how can we prevent these ridiculous actions from being taken against innocent children and young people.

Less sensational, but more important, is a case that recently played out in Massachusetts federal court. LD, a 14-year-old eighth-grader in a Worcester middle school, was an honors student with a spotless discipline record.

In gym class, a friend told him that another student had threatened him with a knife. LD confiscated the knife and planned to go later to the office to turn it in. Before that happened, however, word spread, and the assistant principal approached LD and asked for the knife. LD was suspended from school for a year.

It made no difference that LD didn’t bring the knife to the school or didn’t threaten anyone with it. In implementing a “zero-tolerance’’ weapons policy, it was enough for Worcester officials that LD had “possessed’’ the weapon, even if only for a short time.

LD fought the suspension in court and won. Federal District Court Judge Dennis Saylor, in granting LD’s motion for a preliminary injunction, ruled that the one-year suspension was so grossly disproportionate to any wrongdoing LD committed that it was not rationally related to any legitimate state purpose and therefore offended the US Constitution’s guarantee of substantive due process.

This case is significant because it is one of the first decisions by a judge invalidating a zero-tolerance policy on constitutional grounds. As a result of the court’s ruling, LD was reinstated in school, and his record was expunged. Worcester agreed to change the way it handled these cases and to decide on future cases using their individual facts.

LD’s case represents a rare judicial victory in the battle to keep children in school. Over 10,000 students drop out of school in Massachusetts every year, including many who are effectively pushed out through excessive discipline. The American Bar Association recently adopted a recommendation to reduce the removal of students from school through disciplinary processes, and the Legislature is considering raising the dropout age from 16 to 18. The court’s rejection of a zero-tolerance policy will complement these changes.

The Maryland case reignited national debate about zero-tolerance weapons policies. Proponents of the policy argue that rigid adherence to the rules is necessary to ensure school safety, and that individual case-by-case determinations occupy scarce resources better devoted to teaching. They argue that policies insulate them from charges of racial discrimination since the majority of students suspended or expelled are students of color.

But zero-tolerance advocates ignore basic truths. The Supreme Court has ruled that students facing long-term suspensions are entitled to a fair hearing—so resources will be expended in any event. In zero-tolerance districts, these hearings are often a pretense. The outcome is assured before the process even begins. Since a hearing process is constitutionally mandated, there is no good reason for school officials not to afford students meaningful hearings: our legal system is based on punishing only those that are deserving, and an accused’s culpability must be considered.

Schools should not forget that their core mission is to educate young people, not protect them from crimes that were never committed. Expelling and/or suspending a student for a prolonged period can have a devastating impact on his or her education, and the rest of his or her life. As LD’s case made clear, school officials need to recommit themselves to keeping students in school.