Public Education, the Supreme Court, and the Battle for the American Mind
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A compendium of constitutional law as it relates to public schools.

In his book-length debut, Driver (Law/Univ. of Chicago), an editor of the Supreme Court Review and former Supreme Court clerk for Sandra Day O’Connor and Stephen Breyer, assembles a coherent summary of court opinions governing a wide variety of topics bearing on public education. He contends that "the public school has served as the single most significant site of constitutional interpretation within the nation's history." This is because "the cultural anxieties that pervade the larger society often flash where law and education converge….Then we engage in an argument that is fundamentally about what sort of nation we want the United States to be." Driver explores the strange twists of school desegregation law flowing from Brown v. Board of Education along with wide-ranging coverage of such topics as students' freedom of expression; the place of prayer and religion in schools; school discipline, searches, and drug testing; and interdistrict funding disparities. The author accompanies the summaries of the decisions themselves with a survey of their receptions in the popular press and in legal academic circles. Driver often adds his own opinions of many of the decisions, but he is not overbearing about it, and his positions are generally well-grounded and well-argued. The topics are thoughtfully organized and presented in a style that is precise enough for lawyers while remaining lively for educators and concerned parents, always keeping in view the human stories behind the landmark cases. One of Driver’s major concerns is that students will get early and vivid impressions of their rights as citizens from their treatment at school, and he often finds that treatment wanting.

Thorough, accessible, and always relevant, this is a valuable service and reference for legal practitioners, educators, parents, and citizens concerned about constitutional rights in the context of public education.

Pub Date: Sept. 4th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-101-87165-2
Page count: 544pp
Publisher: Pantheon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2018


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