Education and the Law: State Interests and Individual Rights

No government activity exerts a more pervasive influence on Americans for a longer period of their lives than the regulation of education. The state seeks through its educational system to achieve two goals: the development of the basic reading, writing and other academic skills that any productive member of society must possess; and the inculcation of values deemed essential for a cohesive, harmonious and law-abiding society. Basically, through uniformity and standardization of the education experience the state attempts to guarantee that children will not become liabilities to society and that a minimal acceptance of shared values and norms will be attained. These ends can be achieved only through a certain degree of educational “egalitarianism”-that is, through a common exposure of all children to values that educational decision-makers deem essential.

To explore the significance of the educational system in shaping our social order, the Michigan Law Review has chosen education law as the subject of this year’s Project.