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2005 January - February

A Model for Technology Integration in Poverty Services

Implementing I-CAN! EIC

By Michelle Barrett

Interactive Community Assistance Network (I-CAN!) and its tax preparation component, I-CAN! EIC, have the potential to increase pro se litigants' ability to vindicate their rights in court and to eliminate the costs associated with tax preparation for low-wage workers eligible for the earned income tax credit. Using these and other technologies to their full potential requires careful implementation planning, commitment, and leadership from the poverty law community.

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Leland Ware, Brown's Uncertain Legacy

A Summary

Standardized testing implemented under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 has not improved equal education in schools. Unless teaching methods are addressed, performance disparities between minorities and white students will continue.

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Holding Back Students Damages Their Educational Progress

An Advocacy Report

By Jill Chaifetz & Rachel Kravitz

Research shows that the use of a single test to determine whether a child is held back a grade impedes the educational progress of children and leads to lower achievement and higher dropout rates. Such blanket retention policies are damaging to students, particularly students of color, and should be blocked.

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School Push-Outs

An Urban Case Study

By Elisa Hyman

When New York City public schools developed an underhanded practice of expelling or transferring difficult-to-educate high school students, Advocates for Children successfully pursued a campaign to put an end to illegal push-out policies. The campaign included public education, media exposure, community outreach, and class action suits.

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The Desegregation Legacy

Uncertain Achievement and Doctrinal Distress

By Donald E. Lively

The principles underlying Brown v. Board of Education were intended to end segregation in schools. But the doctrine was dismantled as courts began to narrow its mandate. A different footing (other than social studies data) for declaring segregation unconstitutional would have insured a solid foundation for desegregation and its future.

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Note—Reclaiming Brown's Vision

A New Constitutional Framework for Mandating School Integration

By Anne Randall

The Brown v. Board of Education decision declared state-imposed segregation of public schools unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court mandated integration by calling for school boards affirmatively to dismantle segregated school systems. However, the Court does not require remedies in cases of de facto desegregation, while it may remedy de jure segregation. The Court should examine whether state actions other than those of the school board, such as zoning and urban planning, create residential segregation and contribute to the current state of school desegregation.

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The Segregation and Resegregation of American Public Education

The Courts' Role

By Erwin Chemerinsky

Desegregation efforts in schools have not been very successful, and schools around the country are resegregating. In Brown v. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court gave an impetus to desegregation but failed to support this impetus. The Court contributed to the resegregation of American public education; it prevented interdistrict remedies, refused to find inequities in school funding unconstitutional, made it difficult to prove discrimination in Northern school systems, and ended effective desegregation efforts.

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The Color of Inadequate School Resources

Challenging Racial Inequities that Contribute to Low Graduation Rates and High Risk for Incarceration

By Daniel J. Losen

Students of color, particularly males, graduate from high school at substantially lower rates than white students. Segregation, poverty, and inadequate school resources contribute to this inequity, which is also linked to test-driven accountability of the No Child Left Behind Act and schools' increasing use of overly harsh discipline policies. The U.S. Department of Education has failed to enforce the Act's graduation rate accountability, which might have mitigated the problem of test-score goals giving schools the incentive to push out low achievers. Still, school finance and adequacy litigation and the Act's graduation rate accountability measures are sources of remedies for advocates seeking to stem the flow of students from school to prisons and to increase graduation rates of students of color.

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Representing Students with Disabilities in Individualized Educational Planning

By Diane C. Smith

Many students with disabilities in the U.S. public education system are not receiving the services to which they are legally entitled. A small amount of advocacy can make a great difference. A summary of the framework of rights for public school students (the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and state law), an overview of the individualized education program (IEP) process and problem-solving options, and practice tips may help advocates new to this area of law.

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The Power of Working with Community Organizations

The Illinois FamilyCare Campaign—Effective Results Through Collaboration

By John Bouman

In 2002 the Illinois legislature passed FamilyCare, a program that offers health insurance coverage to tens of thousands of working parents in low-income families, many of whom recently left public assistance. The campaign for FamilyCare was led by an unusual and symbiotic alliance between the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty law and United Power for Action and Justice, a Chicago-area community organization. The allies brought different but complementary world views and skills that proved to be an effective combination offering lessons for future collaboration of lawyers and policy advocates with community organizers.

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Where Are We Five Years After Olmstead?

By Jennifer Mathis

Five years after the U.S. Supreme Court's Olmstead v. L.C. decision and fourteen years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, far too many individuals with disabilities remain unnecessarily institutionalized. State and federal efforts to develop community-based services for individuals with disabilities have resulted in few individuals actually moving into more integrated settings. Olmstead litigation, although complex and difficult, has enabled large numbers of individuals with disabilities to obtain needed home- and community-based services.

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About this Issue

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Domestic Violence and Public and Subsidized Housing

Addressing the Needs of Battered Tenants Through Local Housing Policy

By Emily J. Martin & Naomi S. Stern

Most women facing homelessness are victims of domestic violence. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's new guidebook allows public housing authorities to develop domestic-violence-victim preferences. The release of the new guidance creates an advocacy opportunity for legal aid attorneys to educate public housing authorities in ways to retain and protect resident families who may have domestic violence histories.

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