St. Mary's Law Journal


This Article presents a mixed-methods, interdisciplinary study on educational policy and practice to offer solutions to fossilized problems extant across the United States’ elementary and secondary schools. Analysis of historic Supreme Court decisions and statutes unveil compelling trends that have shaped the legal landscape over the latter half of the twentieth century. Linguistic comparisons of two milestone revisions of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act—No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)—show Congress granted more flexibility and authority to local districts and states under ESSA, which reflected trends in Supreme Court opinions over several decades.

A comparative statistical analysis of state ESSA plans discovered not a single state met interim or long-term academic achievement targets. Concurrently, sources show that American education law intersects with civil and human rights, but public policy and practice have yet to consistently adhere to such emergent and enduring principles. In response to failures and shortcomings, policy recommendations include establishing student and teacher Bills of Rights, implementing cross-curricular assessment systems, redefining “proficiency,” and promoting enhanced collaboration among stakeholders in education.

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St. Mary's University School of Law


Maximiliano Elizondo

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