The ideal of the “common school” was the motivating vision for creating a system of public education in the United States – a vision of pluralism, inclusiveness, and a common commitment to deliberative democratic citizenship. Though never fully realized, the promise of a democratic public education for all has been a touchstone of the American political project and has inspired waves of progressive education reform.
Guest speakers in Y-Lab’s Preserving Public Education series will highlight timely controversies related to public schools and invite a conversation about how we can preserve public education as a key democratic institution in the face of increasing threats to its underlying vision.
This page will be updated with more details about talks in the series on an ongoing basis. Please check back for more information, including video recordings of speakers’ remarks whenever possible.
In our first talk, “Transgender Students’ Rights In Public Schools,” Professor Anne Dailey discussed barriers transgender youth face to full and equal participation in our nation’s public schools. Below is a recording of Professor Dailey’s remarks from December 1, 2021.
In our second talk, Carmen Longoria-Green will discuss the decades-long campaign by parental-rights extremists—beginning in response to school desegregation and the perceived “godlessness” of public schools—and its heavy hand in the homeschooling movement; its current political power; and what more we can expect from its adherents. Below is a recording of Carmen’s talk from March 30, 2022.
For our third talk, Saa’un P. Bell, Associate Director Campaign, Policy, Narrative Strategy, Power California, and John Affeldt, Managing Attorney, Public Advocates Inc., discussed the methods their organizations have employed to create more equity in California’s public schools. Below is a recording of Bell and Affeldt’s remarks on April 4, 2022.
In CAP’s fourth talk, LGBTQ+ advocate Michael Womack, student activist Will Larkins, and HLS Lecturer on Law Alexander Chen, discuss the impact of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” Bill on LGBTQ+ youth, public schooling, and the legal battles ahead. Below is a recording of the talk by Womack, Larkins, and Chen on April 20, 2022.
Tuesday, March 21, 2023, Y-Lab Fellows and Writing Program participants discuss their research and writing projects related public education:
- “Students with Disabilities and Massachusetts Vocational Schools,” a discussion with Brian Dezurick (JD ’23).
- “Revitalizing the Democratic Vision of Public Education,” a discussion with Alyssa Milstead (JD ’23).
Monday, March 27, 2023, Professor George presents a draft of her paper, Deny, Defund, and Divert: The Law and American Miseducation, which “draws a through-line between laws enacted to prevent desegregation” in the aftermath of Brown v. Board of Education and recently-introduced “laws that seek to exclude the nation’s history of racial inequality and its enduring effects from curriculum.”
The right’s obsession with CRT, bathrooms, and school vouchers has made it clear that destroying public education is a top political priority, particularly in the South, where the greatest number of BIPOC students live and go to school. Join Harry Chiu, JD ’22, Lynn Walker Huntley Social Justice Fellow at Southern Poverty Law Center and the Southern Education Foundation, and his co-advocate Alex Ames, organizing director of the Georgia Youth Justice Coalition, on Monday, April 3, 2023, for a conversation on strategies for protecting public schools in the conservative South and why doing so is essential for racial and economic justice.
Critical Race Theory and School Funding in the South is co-hosted by APALSA, Advocates for Education, the Youth Advocacy and Policy Lab, the Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative, and the Education Law Clinic.
2021-2022 Co-sponsors of Preserving Public Education Series included: Advocates for Education, American Constitution Society, Asian Pacific American Law Students Association, The Bell Collective, Child and Youth Advocates, Disability Law Students Association, La Alianza, Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative/Education Law Clinic, and the Women’s Law Association.