“Justice” Might Be the Word of the Year, but What if You Don’t Know How Your Own State Defines the Right to Education?

I love me some Merriam-Webster.

Merriam-Webster is the G.O.A.T., itself defining the meaning of “dictionary” for the 21st century. And when they announced the 2018 Word of the Year based on user lookups, I was both inspired and disheartened: “justice.” On the one hand, people looking up the word justice means that there is growing popular interest in what a fundamental democratic principle means. That’s a good thing.

At the same time, when it comes to educational justice, few people seem to know that education law is pretty thin stuff, that education isn’t directly protected by the federal Constitution. If you find yourself wondering what justice means in our schools, I encourage you to explore “States of Education,” an interactive map I created that allows you to see precisely how each state constitution defines the right to public education.

Maybe next year, just maybe, the most popular word search on Merriam-Webster will be “education.”

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