Practical Lawyering Skills
561: Comparative Education Law and Policy: Early Childhood Education
This unique course will immerse students in a comparative analysis of early childhood education law and policy. The course begins with an exploration of the legal and political structure of American early childhood education, including issues such as: (1) the role of the national and local government in regulating education; (2) the constitutional right to education; (3) the governance of educational institutions and the shaping of curriculum; (4) the rights and responsibilities of teachers; and (5) the image of the child. The American legal system’s resolution of these issues is then compared to the resolution of these same issues by legal and educational systems in other countries, particularly those in Italy and Finland.
One focus of the class will be the world-renowned approach to preschool education developed in Reggio Emilia, Italy. The preschools in Reggio Emilia are widely regarded as the best in the world. The “Reggio” approach to early education is built on a particular understanding of the biological and social nature of children, and the role of the state in developing its young. Accordingly, the class will explore the neuro-science undergirding the Reggio approach and how this science informs: educational objectives and methods; the architecture of the educational environment, the connections between school and community and the legal and political structures surrounding children. Throughout the class, the “Reggio” approach will serve as a benchmark for understanding and assessing the law and policy of early childhood education in the United States. In addition, the class will examine the internationally acclaimed educational system in Finland to determine whether its successes can be replicated in the United States.
Students will be required to participate actively in class exercises and projects, to present material to the class, and to write a 10-15 page analytical, research or policy paper that addresses an issue raised by the class.