Amicus brief of Mass2020, Nellie Mae Foundation in Hancock Case

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court will be ruling on a landmark education case, Hancock v. Driscoll, at some point this year.  The case takes up the question of whether the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has been providing our children with a constitutionally adequate education or not.  I’ve been informally working with a team of policy advocates, educators, lawyers, and child development experts on an amicus brief in that case, which is posted here.  The brief was ably drafted by a Boston lawyer, and HLS grad, Andrea Kramer.

Mass2020‘s Chris Gabrieli and Jennifer Davis wrote in an e-mail today: “In the coming year, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court will rule on a case that promises to be one of the most important matters impacting public education and children in Massachusetts in the state’s history.  The ruling will come in the Hancock v. Driscoll school financing case, where students from underperforming districts have brought suit against the state, claiming that it has not satisfied its constitutional duty to educate all children.  The plaintiffs argue that their schools, which serve a high proportion of at-risk students, are significantly under-resourced and, thus, cannot possibly adequately educate students to the high standards which the state has set.  These standards are fixed through the seven curriculum frameworks, which cover English/Language Arts, mathematics, science, social science, language, health and the arts.  Setting the educational bar so high, and in such a wide variety of subjects, without furnishing enough resources to reach the bar, say the plaintiffs, means that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is in default of its own constitutional mandate.

Led by Massachusetts 2020 and the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, a group of organizations and individuals committed to increasing the time children at-risk spend in productive learning environments recently filed an amicus curiae brief to extend the plaintiffs’ argument further.  The brief contends that the lack of resources for at-risk children comes not only in the form of money, but also in the form of time.  Our schools still operate on the same schedule they did since the 19th century, even as our expectations for what children should know and be able to do are so much higher. If the state is to live up to its constitutional duty, it must implement policies that extend the real learning time of students or else too many will simply not meet the state’s high standards for learning.”

For the lower court opinion, look here.  It’s an interesting and important case (even though it has nothing to do with Internet law!).

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