In the United States, education is one of the most important hallmarks of its population. The government and local communities take numerous steps to make schools available to all children despite their families’ incomes, social statuses, races, and ethnicity. Each child should have an opportunity for an appropriate learning and social environment. Public schools have a clear task that is to provide all children with a good portion of education. To support children and their families and be confident that all schools work in an appropriate manner, the American government develops special legal rights and constitutional principles. In addition to a number of legal issues and concerns about the existing system of education, school spending turns out to be a significant question for discussion (Kemerer & Sansom, 2013). The power of law in education cannot be neglected because it helps to regulate the activities of different people and define the requirements that should be followed. The cases of Oliver Brown, Allan Bakke, Amy Rowley, Milliken vs. Bradley can be used in the investigation of how the law determines the field of education and helps students protect their rights and freedoms.
Importance of Law in Education
Social development is impossible without education, and education is impossible without control and clear requirements that have to be considered by parents, teachers, and school principals. Schools have to deal with constant complaints and people’s expectations to get access to the best schooling services. However, schooling spending and funding are not always equal, and schools have to participate in different court decisions to clarify what teachers or other school employees, students, and parents must do and never have to do. The federal No Child Left Behind Act is a legal document in terms of which all important academic standards for students to be followed are identified (Ryan, 2008). Though academic standards may be helpful in courts due to their possibility to identify what makes education adequate, the outcomes of courts and court decisions depend a lot on the way of how people understand all legislative definitions and obligations and what lessons can be learned from different cases.
At this moment, the United States has already experienced many Supreme Court cases which were related to such sphere as education, constitutional law, and public schooling. One of the first and most important court cases was observed in 1954 when Oliver Brown and several other families raised the question of the segregation of public schools regarding the race of students. In 1974, the problem of segregation in schools was raised again and proved that racial differences still had an impact on students, their families, and the conditions under which the education system was developed in the United States. In 1978, the case of Bakke proved that not only black students suffered from racial inequality in schools. However, racial segregation was not the only challenge for American schools. The case of Rowley in 1982 raised another important injustice in education that was based on students’ disabilities and their intentions to be educated. The court decisions obtained from these cases helped to shape the law regarding equal protection of students and their families in schools.
The United States is the country where much attention is paid to the importance of education. At the same time, this country is where racial inequality and the rights of the black and white populations undergo numerous discussions even today two century after the abolishment of slavery. Despite the existing Constitutional amendments, including the 13th Amendment of slavery abolishment, the 14 Amendment about citizenship, and the 15th Amendment about the right to vote (Library of Congress, n.d.), the rights of African Americans were not stable. In education, American families began their legal fights against the existing system and legally approved racial segregation in schools in the middle of the 1950s. Oliver Brown and other black parents made a decision to protect their children’s rights to education and the possibility to visit schools that were geographically appropriate for their families (Patterson, 2006). The court decision was the first step in the intentions to continue the struggle and achieve the creation of legally race-segregated schools in the United States.
Twenty years later, in 1974, the United States faced another court decision that influenced the promotion of an equal protection of students in schools. It was the case of Milliken v. Bradley that touched upon the Detroit public school system and the racial segregation that was a result of the legal policies (Milliken v. Bradley, 1974).This case showed that desegregation was never expected to be an easy step for the country. Despite the intentions to provide all people with freedoms and equal rights, there are the situations when racial inequality matters. In 1978, the case of Bakke demonstrated another possible side of racial segregation in American schools when a white American man of 35 years was not allowed to a medical program because of the color of his skin and his well-set appearance (Wilkinson, 1981). The question was if a white man deserved the right to be a part of a medical program that was funded by the government and provided a student with an opportunity to get an education in a free form. The case of Bakke upheld affirmative action and supported the idea of race being one of the factors for college admission (University of California Regents v. Bakke, 1978). It was proved that the racial segregation discussion could never be ended in the United States.
Students with Disabilities in American Schools
The case of Hendrick Hudson School District v. Rowley was one of the most successful interpretations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in terms of the conditions under which students were able to get their education. Amy Rowley was a deaf student and a good lip reader that allowed her to attend a regular kindergarten class and be provided with an FM hearing aid (Hendrick Hudson Dist. Bd. Of Ed. v. Rowley, 1982). Still, the school, as well as the local education agency, refused to provide the required services and did not give Amy a chance to continue her education. With the help of this court decision, it was concluded that children with disabilities deserved much attention and recognition in their intentions to be educated and learn the material the same way ordinary children were able to do.
In general, all cases discussed in this paper, as well as the evaluation of the current system of education in the United States, proved the fact that the law was an important issue in a learning process. On the one hand, students and their families are in need of legal protection and support. On the other hand, teachers have to base their activities and decisions on certain requirements and conditions. The law is a step forward to promote equality among American students, and the American government has to continue developing this field in order to create a strong system of education and a number of opportunities for the population.
Nowadays, there are many ways with the help of which people are able to investigate their opportunities and understand what contributions to particular fields have been already made and which improvements are still expected to be developed. In this part of the work, one U.S. Supreme Court case will be analyzed in order to clarify what leadership implications can be developed regarding the past experience of the Americans. Though America is defined as a democratic country with a number of opportunities available to all its citizens, there are still the cases that question such issues as racial equality and school funding for all students. The case Grutter v. Bollinger occurred in 2003. It upheld affirmative action and the existing racial admission policies in higher education. Through a detailed analysis of the case, its court’s decision, main issues, and relevant laws’ recognition, the Grutter v. Bollinger case could be used as a significant improvement of educational leadership and a step to understanding the connection between the law and education.
In 2003, the court case Grutter v. Bollinger occurred becoming a landmark judgment with the help of which it was possible to clarify the conditions under which education facilities and their officials had to consider a race issue during admissions. The peculiar feature of this case is the evaluation of different educational benefits that may be obtained from a diverse student body and other factors that determine the possibility of admission. Grutter faced certain challenges during admitting the University of Michigan because race was one of the factors for consideration. She was a 43-year white female who decided to change her career and obtain new opportunities. Her admission was rejected by the University’s officials who stated that if she had been as a member of some minority groups, such as African Americans or Native Americans, she could have a chance to become a student. Several minority groups’ representatives with lower than Grutter’s test scores became the students of the University, and Grutter sued the University because of the accident of illegal race discrimination. The trial was won in the U.S. District Court. However, the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court was different.
The Court’s majority headed by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor introduced their decision in favor of the University of Michigan stating that no illegal race discrimination occurred in that case. According to the U.S. Constitution, it was possible for law schools to narrow admission conditions regarding race in order to obtain the required educational benefits. The use of race in admission decisions was narrowly tailored to meet educational benefits and promote a diverse student body (Grutter v. Bollinger, 2003). The same day, O’Connor underlined the opposition of the court in regards to the use of strict racial quotas that had to be regarded while making such serious decisions.
Equal Protection Issue Summary
The parties of the case address the Supreme Court in their intentions to clarify what the University was allowed to do and what steps could be defined as illegal. The 14th Amendment was used for the analysis of equal protection of students’ rights. The Court explained that the government made school official to be very careful with racial classifications which could play a role while admissions. With the help of racial classifications, it was possible to provide racial minorities with a chance to be educated and supported. The case of Grutter was used to destabilize the already existing expectations and promote the importance of strict scrutiny of the situations when laws could create the necessary frameworks for education.
Relevant Laws and Cases
In the history of the United States, it is possible to find many similar court cases and decisions that may question the appropriateness of racial diversity in education. In the same year, there was another case known as Gratz v. Bollinger where several problematic issues of an admission process were discussed at the same University. There are also numerous comparisons of Grutter’s case with the case Regents of the University of California v. Bakke when a white man was not allowed to be a part of a medical program because of the color of his skin. Finally, one of the recent cases, Fisher v. University of Texas, discussed the situation when Abigail Fisher and Rachel Michalewicz were not able to enter the University because of their race. All these cases proved that the United States has not yet survived the outcomes of slavery abolishment and has to improve its laws and regulations to be sure that any person could not suffer from or be rejected because of the color or skin, race, and ethnicity.
Implications for Today’s Educational Leadership
Nowadays, many American citizens believe that their government and their President are able to take a number of steps in order to protect their rights and freedoms and create appropriate conditions for living, working, and learning. However, the cases discussed in this paper show that not all expectations can be met, and the power of the government can be destructive. The intentions to support the representatives of one race influence the conditions under which the representatives of another race have to survive and achieve their goals. Unfortunately, education is a field that undergoes certain changes because of these concerns, questions, and doubts. Educational leaders have to understand what abilities and possible impact they may have on ordinary people. It is not enough to run a facility and provide students with knowledge. Educational leaders have to be involved in numerous activities.
The chosen case explains that students may be disappointed because of their failures to be admitted to a desirable university and blame leaders for the inability to follow the law and educate them properly. On the one hand, such situation turns out to be an example of unfair treatment and requires the necessity to change something. On the other hand, in terms of such court cases, it becomes clear that educational leaders have to work hard and evaluate each piece of information and a situation in general. There is one university with a number of students willing to enter it. The law determines certain conditions and requirements that have to be followed, and educational leaders have to rely on them to make correct and appropriate decisions. At the same time, they have to make choices and investigate who deserves the right to be a part of a program and who is able to try some other options.
Educational leadership is complex and challenging. Sometimes, people are ready for different challenges and tasks to prove their competence and rights to education. In fact, it is hard to evaluate the work of all educational leaders and identify their decisions as wrong or right regarding personal attitudes and background knowledge. Today, leaders have to be involved in numerous activities, make sure that all students are provided with the best services, and check if teachers or other employees are satisfied with their working conditions.
Kemerer, S., & Sansom, P. (2013). California school law (3rd ed.). Stanford, CA: Stanford Law Books.
Library of Congress. (n.d.). Brown v. Board at fifty: “With an even hand.”: A century of racial segregation, 1849-1950. Web.
Patterson, J.T. (2006). Brown v. board of education: A civil rights milestone and its troubled legacy. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Ryan, J.E. (2008). Standards, testing, and school finance litigation. Texas Law Review, 86(6), 1223-1262.
Wilkinson, J.H. (1981). From Brown to Bakke: The supreme court and school integration: 1945-1978. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.