THE SCHOOLHOUSE GATE Public Education, the Supreme Court, and the Battle for the American Mind
By Justin Driver
564 pp. Pantheon. $35.
Do children who are undocumented immigrants have the right to a free public education? (They do.) Under what circumstances can teenagers be searched or suspended by school staff? (A very wide variety.) Can districts draw school zones in irregular shapes in order to achieve racial diversity in the classroom? (They can.)
These are among the most divisive issues I’ve written about in a decade of education reporting. Indeed, they are among the most divisive issues in American life. And as Justin Driver explains in his indispensable “The Schoolhouse Gate: Public Education, the Supreme Court, and the Battle for the American Mind,” the highest court has ruled on each of these questions, profoundly shifting the American legal landscape not only in classrooms but outside of schools as well.
Driver, a University of Chicago law professor and former clerk to Justices Stephen Breyer and Sandra Day O’Connor, offers a bold and ultimately persuasive argument: that despite the American tradition of local and state control of education, “schools should be deemed our most significant theaters of constitutional conflict.” KEEP READING