Over 100 leading education scholars, policymakers, lawyers, students, and civil rights advocates gathered April 27-28, 2006, for two days of intense, spirited, and substantive discussion of “education as a fundamental right” at the Rethinking Rodriguez symposium sponsored by the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute for Race, Ethnicity, and Diversity. Led by Dean Christopher Edley and Professor Goodwin Liu, the symposium examined several dimensions of what is required to make education an enforceable fundamental right as a matter of public policy and judicial doctrine at state and federal levels. The wide-ranging discussion addressed empirical, legal, and institutional questions, as well as the messages and strategies needed to build public support and mobilization necessary to secure a robust and enduring right to high-quality education for all children. The symposium produced over a dozen commissioned papers.
The symposium was the first major initiative of the multi-year Rethinking Rodriguez project. Next steps include the development of working groups devoted to specific themes under the concept of “education as a fundamental right,” as well as potential collaboration between research and advocacy centers across the nation engaged in similar work, including the Southern Education Foundation in Atlanta; the Institute for Democracy, Access, and Education at UCLA; and the Campaign for Educational Equity at Teachers College, Columbia University.