Education Law Research Guide
This guide includes resources on education law, including charter schools and voucher systems, higher education, special education, accountability, and discrimination.
This research guide includes resources that cover various areas of education law, including charter schools and voucher systems, higher education, special education, accountability, and discrimination.
If you are researching for a seminar paper, our Research Strategies for Seminar Papers & Journal Notes guide will be very helpful to you. It will guide you through the different steps of research, from choosing a topic to preemption checking to focusing your research.
Members of the Georgetown University community may contact the Law Library reference desk for assistance or information about materials in this guide. You may also submit questions live online via Chat with a Librarian during reference hours or request a research consultation appointment to discuss more in-depth research with a librarian.
When you begin a research project, it is often helpful to refer to a number of key resources that provide an overview of the topic. These scholarly and journalistic materials, broadly called "secondary sources" in the legal field, will help you to familiarize yourself with issues and to learn what words are commonly used to describe concepts within the area you are studying. This background research will aid greatly when searching for more specific information later.
Listed below are treatises, news sources, journals, databases, and other resources that provide background and overview in education-related topics. Additional items can be found by searching GULLiver (the Law Library catalog) and GEORGE (Main Campus Libraries catalog) by keywords or subject headings. Some of the subject headings you can use in library catalogs are:
- Children with Social Disabilities -- Education -- Law and Legislation -- United States
- Discrimination in Education -- Law and legislation -- United States
- Education -- Standards -- United States
- Educational Accountability -- Law and legislation -- United States
- Educational Change -- United States
- Educational Law and Legislation
- Educational Vouchers -- Law and Legislation -- United States
- Federal Aid to Education -- United States
- School Choice -- Law and Legislation - United States
- School Improvement Programs -- United States
- Students -- Legal Status, Laws, etc.
- Teachers -- Legal Status, Laws, etc.
- United States -- No Child Left Behind Act of 2001
- Universities and Colleges -- Law and Legislation
- Kern Alexander & M. David Alexander, The Law of Schools, Students and Teachers in a Nutshell (2009). KF4119.3 .A43.
- Nathan L. Essex, School Law and the Public Schools: A Practical Guide for Educational Leaders (4th ed. 2008). KF4119 .E84.
- William A. Kaplin & Barbara A. Lee, The Law of Higher Education: A Comprehensive Guide to Legal Implications of Administrative Decision Making (2006). KF4225 .K36.
- Steven G. Poskanzer, Higher Education Law: The Faculty (2002). KF4225 .P67. Available online through eBrary.
- James A. Rapp ed., Education Law (1984- ; loose-leaf for updating). KF4119 .E275. Available online through Lexis.
- Laura Rothstein & Scott F. Johnson, Special Education Law (2010). KF4210 .R68.
- Stephen B. Thomas et al., Public School Law: Teachers' and Students' Rights (2009). KF4119 .M38.
- Education Law Association, The Yearbook of Education Law (annual publication, 1988 - present). KF4102.5 .Y4. Available online through Wilson (EBSCO) OmniFile.
- National School Board Association, School Law in Review (annual publication, 1985-2004). KF 4119 .A2 S38.
The following newsletters and blogs are great sources for seminar paper topic ideas and commentary on current issues in education policy and law. Other good sources include websites of government agencies, research centers, school reform organizations, advocacy groups, and coalitions and associations.
- The Chronicle of Higher Education
Provides online searchable full text access to the latest issues of The Chronicle and archives back to 1995. Also includes daily news, advice columns, current job listings and discussion forums. Coverage: 1995 - present.
- Education Commission of the States (ECS) Blogs & Newsletters
The Education Commission of the States publishes several newsletters covering different education-related topics. You can access the newsletters from their website or subscribe the newsletters and receive them by email. These newsletters include:
- ECS e-Clips. Gives you the day's top education news, as well as a link to Education Week's extensive daily news roundup. Current service only.
- ECS e-Connection. A weekly e-mail publication with links to key education information. Current service only.
- Citizenship Matters. From the National Center for Learning and Citizenship (NCLC), a bimonthly newsletter that focuses on ECS' work in improving citizenship education in our nation's schools. Current service only.
- Education Week (Editorial Projects in Education, EPE)
EPE is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization based in Washington, D.C., with a mission to help raise the level of awareness and understanding among professionals and the public of important issues in American education. It covers local, state, and national news and issues from preschool through the 12th grade. Education Week is American education's newspaper of record. Web-only stories require online subscription. Core contents are available:
- The Edjurist
The Edjurist is a free blog maintained by several collaborating education law professors who teach at both law schools and schools of education. The Edjurist serves educational and legal professionals as a resource for information and current events concerning laws and policies in our nation's K-12 schools.
- National School Boards Association Legal Clips (via e-mail)
A free service providing subscribers with weekly updates on important and interesting school law issues. NSBA also has a blog called Board Buzz.
News publications may also be helpful sources. Some news sources are:
- ProQuest (Georgetown Law only) provides access to full-text or abstracts of newspaper or magazine articles. ProQuest Tutorial.
- Lexis: Transcripts provides access to full-text transcripts of TV programs such as the Charlie Rose Show, and TV/radio programs from ABC, Al-Jazeera, CBS News, CNBC, CNN, Fox News Network, MSNBC, National Public Radio, etc. Coverage varies by program.
The following resources for academic publications are useful in conducting a preemption check as well as researching your paper.
Online resources are often the most effective for finding recent journal articles. You can use Lexis or Westlaw to search for and retrieve the full text of many, but not all, law journals. For more comprehensive coverage of interdisciplinary education topics published in legal and non-legal journals, you can use online indexes to get citations and often full text for articles across all legal and non-legal journals available through the Library.
- Lexis and Westlaw
Both Lexis and Westlaw include selected education law journals in full text. Generally, they don't have articles before 1985 or so, but coverage varies by journal.
- Law Journal Indexes
- Legal Periodicals and Books (formerly Index to Legal Periodicals).
Available through the EBSCOhost platform, this database provides citations to articles from over 700 legal publications, plus monographs published in 1993 or later. Periodical coverage begins in August 1981. Legal Periodicals and Books Retro covers 1918 to 1981.
- LegalTrac (Tutorial)
Cumulative index of approximately 800 legal publications. Also includes law-related and interdisciplinary articles from more than 1,000 business, news, and general-interest periodicals. Coverage begins in 1980. Also available through:
- Legal Periodicals and Books (formerly Index to Legal Periodicals).
- Education Law Journals
- Brigham Young University Education and Law Journal
- Print [K2 .R4]
- Lexis: Brigham Young University Education and Law Journal (Spring 1996 - present)
- Westlaw: BYUELJ (1993 - present)
- Education and the Law
- Print [K5 .D7] (vol. 1, 1989 - present)
- Education Policy Analysis Archives (Arizona State University)
- Web (vol.1, 1993 - present)
- Journal of Blacks in Higher Education
- Print [K10 .O1976] (no.5-6, 1994/95 - present)
- Electronic (Sept. 30, 1993 - present)
- Journal of College and University Law
- Print [K10 .O254] (vol. 1, 1973/74 - present)
- Westlaw: JCUL (1993 - present)
- Journal of Law and Education
- Brigham Young University Education and Law Journal
- ERIC (Education Resources Information Center) Database
ERIC is a national information system funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences to provide access to education literature and resources. The database contains more than 1 million abstracts of education-related documents and journal articles going back to 1966. The database includes articles, reports, papers, monographs on education topics and curricular items. Some 107,000 full-text non-journal documents are accessible electronically in PDF format. The thesaurus can help you do a more precise search. Educational reports from ERIC received by GPO Access since October 2002 are available on GPO Access. ERIC is available on the Department of Education website for free.
Search keywords, then use relevant descriptors. Use quotations for phrase searching.
- ProQuest Education
Indexes articles published in over 700 education journals, many articles are available in full text. 1988 - present.
- Academic Search Premier. (Tutorial) Provides full text for 3,467 publications covering academic areas of study including social sciences, humanities, education, linguistics, arts & literature, medical sciences, and ethnic studies. A total of 4,425 titles are abstracted and indexed, of which 2,591 are peer-reviewed.
- ProQuest Research Library. (Tutorial) Indexes and abstracts articles in more than 1800 general publications, with varying coverage dates, most beginning in the late 1980's. Also, complete articles for approximately 200 popular periodicals.
- Social Sciences Full Text. Indexes articles in all areas of the social sciences, from 350 English-language journals. Covers anthropology, ethnic studies, economics, environment, geography, health, law and criminology, public administration, political science, psychology, sociology, urban studies and women's studies. 1983 - present.
- Sociological Abstracts. A primary resource for accessing the latest research in sociology and related disciplines in the social and behavioral sciences.
- SSRN: Social Science Research Network. Includes 10 research networks. It is a good source for journal articles that have yet to be published and working papers. Many articles and papers are available for full-text download.
If you are using an index that provides only citations, you will need to get the full text of your articles. Here's how:
Search in the Library's catalog, GULLiver, for the title of the journal to see if we have it. In print or electronic format, we have almost all of the scholarly legal journals published. The current issues are at the Williams Circulation Desk and the bound ones are on the 3rd Floor West. Pre-1980 volumes are on the 1st Floor.
The Library also subscribes to many mega-databases which include full-text journal articles, often in pdf format. You may use the E-Journal Finder to find electronic journals available either in various databases or directly through different publishers. You can type the title of the journal (not the article) you wish to retrieve, click the resulting search results to connect to the electronic version of that journal and open the right issue to retrieve your article.
If you need an article from a journal that the Library doesn't have, contact the Reference Desk. We can help you find a library that does have it, or we can show you how to request the article through interlibrary loan (ILL).
- GAO Reports. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is the investigative arm of Congress. "Its mission is to support Congress in meeting its Constitutional responsibilities (e.g. oversight, policy, and funding decision) and to help improve the performance and accountability of the Federal Government for the American People." Most GAO reports are made at the request of members of Congress. They are also available on Westlaw: GAO-RPTS (1994 - present).
- PolicyFile (1990 - present). Indexes and abstracts public policy research and analyses originating from think tanks, university research programs, research organizations, and publishers (includes some GAO Reports, but not CRS Reports). Where available, access to home pages and full text are made available within individual abstracts.
- PAIS International (1972 - present). Indexes public policy and public affairs literature.
- CQ Researcher. Weekly publication covers the most current and controversial issues of the day with complete summaries, insight into all sides of the issues, bibliographies and more .
- Congressional Research Service Reports (CRS Reports). These are non-partisan and in-depth reports produced by the Congressional Research Service, the research arm of the Library of Congress, on a variety of topics for Congress. They are not widely available, but a few libraries have been collecting and making them accessible:
- ProQuest Congressional Research Digital Collection: Provides the full text of Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports since 1916 and selected full text of committee prints since 1830. Access through the "Advanced Search" tab.
- Open CRS: Congressional Research Reports for the People
A project of the Center for Democracy & Technology that serves as a centralized location to learn about the Congressional Research Service and search for CRS reports that have been released to the public by members of Congress. Provides report summaries. Includes most reports collected by the Thurgood Marshall Law Library, University of Maryland and the University of North Texas Library.
This section lists and describes case law sources specific to education law. For information on case law research more generally, see the Library's Case Law Research Tutorial.
- MED-CS (Multistate Education - Cases)
- State Education Law Cases (education law cases from states' appellate courts and selected cases from state trial and miscellaneous courts; coverage varies by court)
West's Education Law Reporter, KF4110.A2 W47. (1982 - )
Provides the full-text of selected federal and state cases on education issues. Also includes summaries of grants, awards and regulations from the U.S. Department of Education, as well as articles authored by education experts. Cases include headnotes, topics and key numbers.
This section lists and describes statutory law sources specific to education law. For information on statutory research more generally, see the Library's Statutory Research Tutorial.
Below is a list of some of the major federal statutes related to education:
- 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. NCLB Act revamped the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, P.L. 89-10, incorporating new provisions in areas such as 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 and youth program, 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.
- Serviceman'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.
Most of the education-related statutes are codified in Title 20 (Education) of the United States Code, some are codified in Title 42 (Public Health and Welfare). The Department of Education has a policy page that includes legislation, regulations, guidance, and other policy documents for topics from adult education to vocational education.
United States Code
There are many different ways of accessing education statutes in the United States Code:
- Official and annotated codes in print - Reading Room
- Lexis: USCS (current federal statutes as they appear in the United States Code Service, including annotations)
- Westlaw: FED-USCA (current federal statutes related to education, as they appear in the United States Code Annotated, including annotations)
- Legal Information Institute: United States Code (federal statutes related to education, in a free web-based database; no annotations; may be less current than the versions available on Lexis and Westlaw)
Proposed Federal Legislation
- THOMAS (for the full text and status of pending and recently enacted education legislation, try a word search in the current Congress.)
- Lexis: Congressional Full Text Bills - Current Congress
- Westlaw: CONG-BILLTXT (federal bills from the current Congress)
Federal Legislative Histories
If you want to investigate the legislative intent behind a piece of legislation, you will need to review some or all of the documents created during the process of enacting that piece of legislation. For many federal education laws, there are compiled legislative histories available through the Library. These compilations usually include bills, Congressional Record debates, committee reports and hearings. To find a compiled legislative history, try a keyword search in GULLiver, such as "education" and "legislative history". For complete legislative history information, read our Legislative History Research Guide or work through our Legislative History Tutorial. Good starting places for legislative history research include:
- United States Code Congressional and Administrative News (USCCAN) (Williams Reading Room) (also available on Westlaw, LH database) reprints the reports that West editors consider most important.
- ProQuest Congressional (formerly Lexis Nexis Congressional)
- Lexis: US - CIS Legislative Histories (1970 - present)
- THOMAS (1973 - present)
- 50-State Information, Education Commission of the States
Not only does this site provides direct links to state education statutes, state administrative code, state government and legislature websites, state education agencies; it also provides up-to-date information on state policy developments. The multi-state reports provide 50-state analysis on various education-related topics, such as No Child Left Behind and charter schools.
- Westlaw: SURVEYS database provides 50 state surveys on a few education law topics. Sources: National Survey of State Laws, Multi-jurisdictional Survey, and West Surveys. Currency varies.
- National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) [http://www.ncsl.org] is a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the nation's 50 states, its commonwealths and territories. The NCSL website provides research results on various public policy issues. Sometimes, NCSL provides 50-state analysis.
- Subject Compilations of State Laws (1981-) [KF1 .F67; online through HeinOnline] is an annotated bibliography listing journal articles or other publications that survey state laws on various topics.
The Department of Education promulgates most of the regulations implementing education policies and they are codified in Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Regulations created by the different Department of Education offices are arranged under Subtitle B of Title 34 as follows:
- Chapter I - Office for Civil Rights
- Chapter II - Office of Elementary and Secondary Education
- Chapter III - Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
- Chapter IV - Office of Vocational and Adult Education
- Chapter V - Office of Bilingual Education and Minority Languages Affairs
- Chapter VI - Office of Postsecondary Education
- Chapter VII - Office of Educational Research and Improvement
Where to find these regulations:
Code of Federal Regulations
Subject compilation of regulations promulgated by federal agencies, updated annually. The Code of Federal Regulations can be found in the following places:
- Print CFR - Williams Reading Room
- Lexis: Code of Federal Regulations (federal regulations related to education)
- Westlaw: FED-CFR (federal regulations related to education)
- GPO Access: CFR (PDF image of print; 1997-present)
- GPO Access: e-CFR (text, not PDF; up-to-date to within 2 days)
Daily publications of the activities of federal agencies, proposed and final regulations must be published in the Federal Register. The Federal Register can be accessed at:
- Current issues - On reserve at the Circulation Desk (older issues are on microfiche/microfilm in Media Services)
- Lexis: FR-Federal Register (notices and regulations related to education)
- Westlaw: FR (notices and regulations related to education)
- GPO Access: Federal Register
For more information about researching federal regulations and administrative law decisions, see the Library's Administrative Law Research Tutorial.
National Center for Education Statistics (U.S. Dept. of Education)
- NCES Electronic Catalog
- Digest of Education Statistics
"provides a compilation of statistical information covering the broad field of American education from pre-kindergarten through graduate school." (1990-one year ago)
- Common Core of Data
"a comprehensive, annual, national statistical database of information concerning all public elementary and secondary schools and local education agencies..." (1986-present)
- Education Finance Statistics Center
"contains information about the finances of schools, school districts and states." (coverage varies by type of information)
- Education Statistics Quarterly
"offers a comprehensive overview of work done across all of NCES." (1999-2006)
Office of Postsecondary Education (U.S. Dept. of Education)
- Reports & Resources
Reports from the Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE) include statistics related to various OPE programs, such as the Veterans' Upward Bound Program, the Student Support Services Program, and the Robert E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program.
- Campus Security Data Analysis Cutting Tool
Provides statistics on alleged criminal offenses reported to campus security authorities and/or local police agencies. Therefore, the data collected do not necessarily reflect prosecutions or convictions for crime. Allows users to generate cross-tabulations on various datapoints, or to download raw data. Excel and SPSS formats are provided.
- American FactFinder - Education
Statistics gathered and organized by U.S. Census Bureau.
- Educational Attainment
"Educational Attainment data are collected annually in the Current Population Survey (CPS) and reported every March for the Nation, with limited detail for states and some metropolitan areas." (1999-present)
- School Enrollment
"School Enrollment data are collected annually in the October Current Population Survey." (1999-present)
- Public Elementary-Secondary Education Finance Data
"Education finance data include revenues, expenditures, debt, and assets (cash and security holdings) of elementary and secondary public school systems. Statistics cover all states, including the District of Columbia, and are available on an annual basis." (1992-present)
Has two main components: "Find a Table" which provides the data, "Find a Publication" which provides summaries of statistical publications including:
- the American Statistics Index (ASI) (1973- ) which covers sources from various government departments and agencies;
- Index to International Statistics (IIS) (1983- ) which covers sources from various international and regional organizations;
- Statistical Reference Index (SRI) (1980- ) which covers sources from different types of associations and organizations.
If you find an abstract, check the web to see if the document is available on the web. Lauinger Library on Main Campus maintains a microfiche collection of the full text of documents.
- U.S. Department of Education
- No Child Left Behind
- Research and Statistics provides links to evaluation, reports, and statistics produced by organizations within the Department of Education
- Education Commission of the States
The Education Commission of the States (ECS) is an interstate compact created in 1965 to improve public education by facilitating the exchange of information, ideas and experiences among state policymakers and education leaders. It is a non-profit and non-partisan organization representing 49 states, three territories, and the District of Columbia. Each member state or territory is represented by seven commissioners: the governor and six other individuals, typically legislators, chief state school officers, state and local school board members. The website provides state profiles and 50-state comparisons on a wide range of education issues, from accountability to vouchers.
- Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution
The Law Library collects all Brookings Institution publications, check GULLiver for print versions. This site provides a subject arrangement of Brookings' publications on education. Topics included are: education equality, education finance, education research, education statistics, elementary and secondary education (K-12), higher education, school choice, teachers, testing and assessments.
- Center For Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement
Funded by the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education of the U.S. Department of Education, the program was "designed to increase student achievement by assisting public schools across the country with implementing comprehensive reforms that are grounded in scientifically based research and effective practices." Its contract ended September 30, 2009. The Center's website includes a School Reform and Improvement Literature Database which contains over 4,000 abstracts, reports, and other information related to school reform and improvement.
- Education Policy Center (The Urban Institute)
Publications by the Education Policy Center in pdf and html formats are available on this website.
- National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education (Teachers College, Columbia University)
"The Center provides independent, non-partisan information on and analysis of privatization in education." Research publications by the Center are available in full-text.
- Public Agenda
A New York-based nonprofit and nonpartisan organization researching and compiling opinion surveys on a wide range of issues, including education.
- Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University
- Center on Reinventing Public Education (CPRE) (Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs, University of Washington). The Center "conducts research on major issues in reform and governance, develops new ideas and models, and designs tools and guides for communities that are exploring alternative ways of providing public education." All CPRE publications are available in PDF formats.
- American Civil Liberties Union - Stand Up! (Student/Youth Rights)
- Center on Education Policy
The Center on Education Policy advocates for public education and for more effective public schools. The website includes the full-text of reports published by the Center, arranged by topic.
- Center for Education Reform
The Center "advocates reforms that produce high standards, accountability and freedom..." The website includes many of the Center's publications.
- Home School Legal Defense Association
"Home School Legal Defense Association is a non-profit advocacy organization established to defend and advance the constitutional rights of parents to direct the education of their children and to protect family freedom."
- American Association of School Administrators (AASA)
- Council of the Great City Schools
The Council "works to promote urban education through legislation, research, media relations, instruction, management, technology, and other special projects designed to improve the quality of urban education." Reports and data compiled by the Council are available on the website.
- National Association of College and University Attorneys
The website provides legal information for college and university attorneys.
- National Education Association
NEA is a professional association representing 3.2 million members working at every level of education, from pre-school to university graduate programs. The website provides general information about the association and information on recently proposed legislation and policies.
- National School Boards Association (NSBA)
The National School Boards Association is a not-for-profit Federation of state associations of school boards across the United States. Their mission is "to foster excellence and equity in public education through school board leadership. [They] achieve that mission by representing the school board perspective before federal government agencies and with national organizations that affect education, and by providing vital information and services to state associations of school boards and local school boards throughout the nation." The website is rich in contents including NSBA publications and research guides covering issues that are of concerns to the NSBA - advocacy & legislation, school governance, school board policies, education technology, and school law. Some contents are available only to members.
- Public Education Network
The Network is "a national association of local education funds (LEFs) and individuals working to advance public school reform in low-income communities across our country." The website provides access to its publications and links to other organizations with an interest in education-related issues.
- Brown v. Board of Education Digital Archive
"contains documents and images which chronicle events surrounding this historically significant case up to the present."
- Campus Legal Information Clearinghouse (The American Council of Education and the Catholic University of America)
The website provides summaries of federal laws related to higher education and examples of Innovative Compliance Practices from other schools.
- U.S. Charter Schools
Initially developed by individuals in the charter school movement from across the country with generous support of the US Department of Education, the site is currently supported by a consortium of organizations interested in providing accurate information and promising practices about and for charter schools.
Created and maintained by an attorney who represents children with special needs, this website is full of useful information, including legislation, court decisions and briefs related to special education.
Created 2006 (LT)
Updated November 2009 (SB)
Revised May 2013 (AJC)
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