Education Legislation, Law & Social Science Research: The Influence of Social Science Research

Article excerpt

Preface-

Social science research has been used in the briefs and rulings of significant legal cases for decades. Louis D. Brandeis argued that judges must consciously consider the probable social results of their decisions. He prepared briefs filled with sociological evidence.1 Use of the "Brandeis brief was popularized by Roscoe Pound in a series of articles showing the need for and relevance of sociological research on the ways the laws operated in practice.2 But in the last half century much of the social science research which could have provided illuminating information for legal research, study and decision-making has remained misunderstood and underused.

It is our purpose in this new section of the Journal to illuminate the important nexus between the evolution of education and the discoveries of social science researchers. From Brown v. Board of Education" to the Michigan affirmative action admission cases4 social science research has influenced the outcome in landmark education law cases. In the intervening decades it has also influenced the Grafting and evaluating of legislation, though perhaps not to the extent that social scientists would prefer. With this section we will emphasize the effect of social science research on significant education legislation beginning with the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001s (NCLB). The article by William Dolan included in this issue begins our episodic coverage of the NCLB. Dolan analyzes provisions of the NCLB which encourage increased participation by faith-based organizations in government.

The uncertain partnership between the disciplines of law and social sciences has created instances of use and misuse of research adding to the legal labyrinth of education. …