Matthew Patrick Shaw

Volume 89.5
The Public Right to Education
Matthew Patrick Shaw
Assistant Professor of Law, Vanderbilt Law School; Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Education, Vanderbilt Peabody College. Affiliated Scholar, American Bar Foundation. J.D., Columbia University; Ed.D., Ed.M., Harvard University; A.B., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

I thank Bernadette Atuahene, David Baluarte, Derek Black, Lisa Schultz Bressman, Jessica Clarke, Shari Diamond, Jonathan Feingold, Jonathan Glater, Vinay Harpalani, Brandon Hasbrouck, Brant Hellwig, Alexandra Klein, Terry Maroney, Ajay Mehrotra, Elizabeth Mertz, Robert Mikos, Melissa Murray, Laura Beth Nielsen, Shaun Ossei-Owusu, Kish Parella, Asad Rahim, James Ryan, Christopher Schmidt, Christopher Serkin, Daniel Sharfstein, Joan Shaughnessy, Jennifer Shinall, Fred Smith, Kevin Stack, Alan Trammell, Joshua Weishart, Kevin Woodson, Dwayne Wright, and Ingrid Wuerth for their helpful feedback on early drafts and much needed collegial support. I also thank the Frances Lewis Law Center at the Washington and Lee University School of Law and Christopher Seaman and Allegra Steck of that Center for their generous research support and Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College for its equally generous support for the research leave that yielded this Article. Franklin Runge at the Washington and Lee University School of Law provided incomparable library support, and George Bouchard, Francisco Santelli, Russel Wade, Jon D’Orazio, Richard Hall, Michelle Koffa, Ashton Toone, and Wesley Wei provided invaluable research assistance. I would also like to thank the student editors of the Law Review. This Article also benefitted immensely from helpful comments and remarks in faculty workshops at the American Bar Foundation, University of Chicago Law School, Vanderbilt Law School, and Washington and Lee University School of Law, as well as in the John Mercer Langston Workshop.

Public education is “the most important function of state and local government” and yet not a “fundamental right or liberty.” This Article engages one of constitutional law’s most intractable problems by introducing “the public right to education” as a doctrinal pathway to a constitutional right to education process in three steps.