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Equal Protection And Public Education

Equal Protection And Public Education

Equal Protection And Public Education

The Equal Protection Clause requiring any state not to deny the people within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws is stipulated in the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution. Johnson (2017) makes it clear that such clause of equal protection is considerably relevant to elementary and secondary public schools. One of the most significant court rulings pertinent to equal protection is the Brown v. Board of Education filed in 1954 and resolved in 1955. In Brown v. Board of Education, the Court ruled that the “separate but equal” principle in public education actually presents a reality of inequality and segregation, which violates the Equal Protection Clause (United States Courts, n.d.).

The Brown v. Board of Education is a landmark case in terms of resolving issues on equal protection of varying classifications in the education arena. GCU (2018) states that the implications of equal protection for K-12 students in public education are classified into English language learners (ELLs), ability grouping or tracking, gender-based academic and sports programs, and specific school assignments for racial balance.

Another meaningful milestone in public education is the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001. NCLB created legislation impacting all students in any classifications relative to equal protection. Sleeter (2004) argues that the radical regulation brought about by the NCLB adversely affects ELLs in the context of public education. Accordingly, NCLB mandates students who are not proficient at speaking English to equally perform as the students who proficiently speak the English language. In this light, many Supreme Court cases pertinent to the welfare and concerns of ELLs were heard and resolved through the years. These ELLs landmark Court rulings include Lau v. Nichols, Aspira v. New York, and Flores v. Arizona.

Classification-wise, the Lau v. Nichols case in 1974 was filed by Chinese-American students in the San Francisco Unified School District in California. The case is based on the language-minority students being placed in mainstream classrooms despite the students’ lack of English proficiency and were left to either “sink or swim.” Wright (2017) relates that the Supreme Court, through Justice William Douglass, ruled in favor of the language-minority students. Even though the school district claimed of no wrong-doing and giving the Chinese- American students equal treatments and opportunities as the others, the Court ruled that equality is not just a matter of providing all students the same resources and learning platforms, but rather ELLs should be given remedial or special instruction to level the playing field in terms of understanding and comprehension of the lessons (Wright, 2017). The Lau v. Nichols case addresses the linguistic and educational needs of ELL students, thereby presenting a legal case that puts emphasis on and equal protection requirement for the ELLs’ equal educational opportunities.

In 1975, the Aspira v. New York case was classified upon Puerto Ricans whose circumstances within the New York City public schools are like the situations and experiences faced by the Hispanic groups around the country. The New York City Board of Education was accused of failing to provide equal educational opportunities for students with limited English proficiency (LEP). Like the Lau v. Nichols case, Aspira v. New York presented a legal issue on and equal protection requirement for an educational program that allows for bilingualism. The Aspira v. New York case paved the way for the realization of various programs in transitional bilingual education in many educational institutions today (Santiago, 1986).

Flores v. Arizona in 2008 is a case assigned under the ELL classification as the federal district court made the decision requiring Arizona to make more actions toward adequate funding of instruction for ELLs (Walsh, 2008). Accordingly, Arizona failed to provide financial and other resources needed to adequately implement mandatory ELL programs. Walsh (2008) further relates that the state claimed it has done its duties and responsibilities under the Equal Educational Opportunities Act in meeting the needs of students with LEP. The state then made an appeal to the Supreme Court in 2008, and the Court sided the state handing back to Arizona lawmakers the power to resolve related issues. According to Kossan (2009), various Arizona legislations in terms of proper funding and the like took place as a result of the Flores v. Arizona case.

In conclusion, the cases presented on this paper are significant implications of equal protection. The notion of equal protection in public education goes beyond providing everyone the same thing; it is giving access to the same opportunities. ELLs remain victims of modern segregation if they are treated with sameness, and not with fairness. Despite having LEP, ELLs are capable of becoming successful if they are provided with what they need (equity); not just being treated the same as their English-speaking counterparts (equality) (Sun, 2014). Through equal protection built on equity, all ELLs and other students have equal opportunities for success.


GCU. (2018). Week 3: Equal protection and education. Retrieved from https://lc- operation=loggedIn#/learningPlatform/assignment/assignment.html?userID=eee1c629- 06d9-4070-8e00-

114889016488&operation=showAssignmentDetails&assignmentID=cc2b61df-9145- 4bf0-a037-2d24866f3726&role=Student&

Johnson, S. F. (2017). The 14th amendment protects individual rights in public education.

 \Retrieved from education/

Kossan, P. (2009). Court rules in favor of state in 17-year English-learner battle. Retrieved from 26main.html

Santiago, I. S. (1986). Aspira v. Board of Education revisited. American Journal of Education, 95(1), 149-199.

Sleeter, C. (2004). Context-conscious portraits and context-blind policy. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 35(1), 132-136.

Sun, A. (2014). Equality is not enough: What the classroom has taught me about justice.

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United States Courts. (n.d.). History – Brown v. Board of Education re-enactment. Retrieved from brown-v-board-education-re-enactment

Walsh, M. (2008). ELLs and the law: Statutes, precedents. Retrieved from

Wright, W. E. (2017). Landmark court rulings regarding English language learners. Retrieved from language-learners


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Choose ONE of the following groups:

Equal Protection And Public Education

Equal Protection And Public Education

  1. Classifications based on English language learners;
  2. Classifications through ability grouping/tracking;
  3. Classifications in academic programs based on gender;
  4. Classifications in sports programs based on gender; and Classifications to assign students to specific schools for racial balance.

Based on group selected this will assignment will

  1. Summarize the factual background on how the students are classified;
  2. Identify the legal issues presented by these classifications; and
  3. Describe what equal protection requires

This requires 5 scholarly resources 3 of them should cite relevant court cases.

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