Education is one of many functions of both the state and federal governments. The federal government has an interest in education; however, each state has primary responsibility for the maintenance and operation of its own public schools. Every state has a constitutional requirement to provide a public school system, and state legislatures have the authority to ensure the system remains consistent with the state’s constitution. This authority is usually delegated to a state board of education.
Common issues in education and school law include equality in education; parents’ rights to direct their children’s education; constitutional freedoms such as freedom of religion and the freedom of speech; special education issues based on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. §§ 1400 et seq.); and public and private funding. Some important federal education statutes include:
- No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, P.L. 107-110, 115 Stat. 1425 (2001), which is mainly codified in Chapter 70 of Title 20, 20 U.S.C. § 6301 et seq. The No Child Left Behind Act revamped the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, P.L. 89-10, incorporating new provisions on testing, accountability and parental choice.
- McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, P.L. 100-77. Subtitle B of Title VII of the Act covers education for homeless children, codified as amended in 42 U.S.C. § 11431 et seq.
- Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), P.L. 91-230, codified as amended at 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq.
- Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 (G.I. Bill), P.L. 78-346, 58 Stat. 284 (June 22, 1944).
- Higher Education Act of 1965, P.L. 89-329, 79 Stat. 1219 (November 8, 1965), codified as amended in 20 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq. The HEA Act increased federal funding for universities, created scholarships, and offered low-interest loans to students.