The Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993 and the decisions of the State’s highest court interpreting the state constitution’s education clause are benchmarks in efforts at law-based education reform. This article discusses the implications of legislative and judicial mandates concerning the provision of education and the extent to which these mandates fail to ensure a fair and meaningful opportunity to learn for all students. It contrasts the legal mandates with evidence from social science literature concerning the conditions that must exist in order to create appropriate learning opportunities, particularly for the most at-risk student populations. It concludes that law can play a role in creating the conditions in local schools for implementing meaningful education reform, but that the present statutory requirements are insufficient and judicial deference to the legislative branch may result in ongoing achievement deficits for the State’s most vulnerable students.
Ensuring an Adequate Education: Opportunity to Learn, Law, and Social Science,
B.C. Third World L.J.