History of the Education & Law Project

The Justice Center’s Education and Law Project’s work began in 1992 as part of the North Carolina Legal Resource Center to improve the state’s public education system and ensure that all students – regardless of the color of their skin, disability, national origin, or socio-economic class – have equal and fair access to high-quality education.

As part of its efforts to advocate for expanded opportunities and educational outcomes for historically underserved communities, the Education
and Law Project has:

  • Led successful efforts to prevent passage of school discipline laws that would have resulted in more students being excluded from public schools.
  • Helped pass legislation requiring special services for at-risk students in public schools and improved legislation that would have held back large numbers of students due to a single test score.
  • Led successful efforts to appropriate new funds for local schools so that they are able to offer education programs for non-English speaking students.
  • Secured passage of a state law that put an end to the “zero tolerance” disciplinary policies that disproportionately excluded many minority students from the opportunity to get an education.
  • Fought harmful resegregation through Office of Civil Rights complaints with the Department of Education after the loss of Wake County’s nationally-recognized diversity policy for school assignment.
  • Provided legal assistance to families that encounter barriers to accessing public schools, including difficulty in registering students, accessing educational supports tailored to individual students, overcoming language barriers, discriminatory admissions processes, and discriminatory application of school discipline rules.

Today, the Education and Law Project engages in efforts to improve and reform public education through tireless policy advocacy at the General
Assembly, community outreach, communications and media, and litigation, as well as:

  • Continuing to lobby for expanded early learning opportunities at the state level and the creation of innovative early childhood programs in local communities that serve low-income, at-risk or underserved students.
  • Lobbying against unlimited charter school expansion and unfair school funding formulas that would divert millions of dollars of revenue from local public school districts at a time when North Carolina’s schools are among the lowest-funded in the nation.
  • Opposing virtual charter schools and working to hold existing schools accountable given their use of public funds, lack of oversight, and unprecedented poor results for students.
  • Successfully fighting off changes to integrated math courses of study that would have disrupted teaching and learning by requiring schools to offer two distinct courses of study for math and subjecting students to outdated learning models in the process.
  • Fighting for improved accountability for the Opportunity Scholarship voucher program, which diverts public funding to private schools despite the lack of any meaningful financial oversight or information on how well the program is educating North Carolina’s students.
  • Supporting increased spending in K-12 public schools to keep up with enrollment growth, and pushing for increased funding for digital resources, school connectivity, and professional development for teachers to use technology in innovative ways in the classroo

Annual Reports on Education & Law