Joshua Dunn

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    Author Bio:
    Joshua Dunn is professor of political science at the University of Colorado–Colorado Springs. His research focuses on judicial policymaking and in particular the influence of the courts on education. He is the author of Complex Justice: The Case of Missouri v. Jenkins (University of North Carolina Press 2008) and the co-editor, with Martin West, of From Schoolhouse to Courthouse: The Judiciary’s Role in American Education (Brookings 2009). He also authors a quarterly article on law and education for Education Next.


Funeral Homes and Female Athletes

Future of girls’ sports may hinge on mortuary case

SPRING 2020 / VOL. 20, NO. 2

Answered Prayer?

Montana case could prompt last judgment for Blaine Amendments

FALL 2019 / VOL. 19, NO. 4

Supreme Court Partially Junks a Lemon

American Legion Cross Case May Make It Harder To Sue Schools Over Religion

WINTER 2020 / VOL. 20, NO. 1

Bullying Bolick

Attempt to remove Arizona justice fails

SUMMER 2019 / VOL. 19, NO. 3

Suing for Desegregation in Minnesota

Will the state’s courts redraw school-district lines?

SPRING 2019 / VOL. 19, NO. 2

Good Advice

Trump overturns Obama guidance on race in public schools

WINTER 2019 / VOL. 19, NO. 1

Judging Choice

Court victory for charter schools in Louisiana

FALL 2018 / VOL. 18, NO. 4

Judgment Day for Union Agency Fees

High court hears oral argument in Janus v. AFSCME

SUMMER 2018 / VOL. 18, NO. 3

Snap Judgment

Should schools act as community hall monitors?

SPRING 2018 / VOL. 18, NO. 2

Narrow Opening for School Choice

But Blaine Amendments stand, for now

WINTER 2018 / VOL. 18, NO. 1

U-turn on Vouchers

Florida courts uphold tax credits

FALL 2017 / VOL. 17, NO. 4

Special Education Standards

Supreme Court raises level of benefit

SUMMER 2017 / VOL. 17, NO. 3

Hands Off My Tenure!

Unions challenge constitutionality of reforms

SPRING 2017 / VOL. 17, NO. 2

Old Legal Wine in New Remedial Bottles

Plaintiffs seek to overturn Rodriguez

Strictly Discrimination

Supreme Court favors race-based policies

WINTER 2017 / VOL. 17, NO. 1

Reaping the Whirlwind

Union victory on tenure may be short-lived

FALL 2016 / VOL. 16, NO. 4

Justice Deferred

Supreme Court lets agency fees stand

Summer 2016 / Vol. 16, No. 3

Let My People Go

Teachers fight to end forced union contributions

Uncommon Confusion

Washington Supreme Court strikes down charter schools

SPRING 2016 / VOL. 16, NO. 2

Voucher Victory

“Disingenuous” federal officials lose battle to shut down Louisiana Scholarship Program

Heading for a Fall

State restrictions on voucher programs rest on shaky foundation

WINTER 2016 / VOL. 16, NO. 1

Disparate Impact Indeed

Court’s latest ruling will hurt minority students

FALL 2015 / VOL. 15, NO. 4

Fool’s Gold

Office of Civil Rights takes on school finance

SUMMER 2015 / VOL. 15, NO. 3

A Tribute to Martha Derthick

With Martha Derthick’s passing on January 12, 2015, America lost one of its preeminent scholars of American politics.

SPRING 2015 / VOL. 15, NO. 2

Modern Maturity for Charter Schools

Litigation shows they have arrived

Collective Panic

Court decision terrifies unions

WINTER 2015 / Vol. 15, No. 1

Script Doctors

A compelling play on the wrong stage?

FALL 2014 / VOL. 14, NO. 4

Bayou Backdown?

Obama administration retreats on vouchers

SUMMER 2014 / VOL. 14, NO. 3

Ballots Not Barristers

Arizona case shows limits of litigation

SPRING 2014 / VOL. 14, NO. 2

Paycheck Protection

Court upholds Michigan law forbidding public schools from collecting union dues through payroll deductions

Winter 2014 / Vol. 14, No. 1

More School Dollars!

School finance claims shuffle back to life

FALL 2013 / VOL. 13, NO. 4

Digital Discipline

We aren’t sure if you can say that

SUMMER 2013 / VOL. 13, NO. 3

Desegregation Redux

Desegregation cases affecting hundreds of districts haven’t been concluded.

Spring 2013 / Vol. 13, No. 2

Can Carrots Become Sticks?

Court knows coercion when it sees it

WINTER 2013 / VOL. 13, NO. 1

Title IX at Trial

If you schedule it, will they come?

FALL 2012 / VOL. 12, NO. 4

Door Still Closed

Alabama plaintiffs lose federal school finance challenge

SUMMER 2012 / VOL. 12, NO. 3

Mickey Mouse Strikes Back

Voucher wars heat up in Colorado

SPRING 2012 / VOL. 12, NO. 2

Budget Buster

Teachers sue to protect pensions

WINTER 2012 / VOL. 12, NO. 1

Trouble in Kansas

Parents in a wealthy district sue to pay more taxes

Fall 2011 / Vol. 11, No. 4

Thou Shalt Not Say Jesus

Do elementary school students have free-speech rights?

Summer 2011 / Vol. 11, No. 3

The Ninth Circuit v. Reality

Highly qualified teachers don’t grow on trees

Spring 2011 / Vol. 11, No. 2

Educational Providence

New York courts close one door, federal money opens another

Winter 2011 / Vol. 11, No. 1


New front opens in the math wars

Fall 2010 / Vol. 10, No. 4

No Federal Case

Court says charter school is not a state actor

Summer 2010 / Vol. 10, No. 3

Strange Bedfellows

Students find unexpected ally in the Christian Right

Spring 2010 / Vol. 10, No. 2

Supreme Modesty

From strip searches to school funding, the Court treads lightly

Winter 2010 / Vol. 10, No. 1


Schools Win in Court

Spring 2009 / Vol. 9, No. 2

Language Barriers

Arizonans battle federal court order to spend more

Winter 2009 / Vol. 9, No. 1

Home Schoolers Strike Back

California case centers on parents' rights

Fall 2008 / Vol. 8, No. 4

Court Jousters

Plaintiffs exploit weaknesses in NCLB

Summer 2008 / Vol. 8, No. 3

Free and Appropriate

Parent's wealth muddies special-education tuition case

Spring 2008 / Vol. 8, No. 2

Doubtful Jurisprudence

Court offers schools little guidance

Winter 2008 / Vol. 8, No. 1

Courts and Choice

Testing the constitutionality of charters and vouchers

Spring 2007 / Vol. 7, No. 2

The Enforcers

Parents may gain right to sue over NCLB

Fall 2007 / Vol. 7, No. 4

Adequately Fatigued

Court rulings disappoint plaintiffs

Summer 2007 / Vol. 7, No. 3

Judging Money

When courts decide how to spend taxpayer dollars

Winter 2007 / Vol. 7, No. 1

Affirmative Action Docketed

The Supreme Court takes up race-based school assignment

Winter 2007 / Vol. 7, No. 1

Virtual Legality

Unions and Home Schoolers Attack Internet Education

Fall 2006 / Vol. 6, No. 4

Florida Grows a Lemon

Florida’s supreme court is no stranger to political warfare. Before the U.S. Supreme Court decided Bush v. Gore in favor of George W. Bush, the Florida court had ruled in favor of Al Gore. And the same court played a crucial role in the state’s extraction of an $11.3 billion settlement from the tobacco industry […]

Summer 2006 / Vol. 6, No. 3

A Setback in Dover

Last rites for Intelligent Design

Spring 2006 / Vol. 6, No. 2

Blog Posts/Multimedia

Justices Hear Arguments in L.A. Catholic Schools Case

A sharp question from Justice Thomas: “don’t you think it’s a bit odd that – that things that violate the Establishment Clause, when done in a public school, are not considered religious enough for Free Exercise protection when done in a parochial school?”


Federal Appeals Judges Discover Constitutional Right to “Basic Minimum Education”

Opinion cites 110-degree classrooms, “rodent feces” in Detroit schools.


Burying Blaine?

Supreme Court hears a mother’s challenge to Montana’s ban on tax-credit scholarships to religious schools


Justices Will Hear Cases About L.A. Catholic Schools

Which teachers qualify for the “ministerial exception”?


Supreme Court Denies Review but Offers Roadmap for High School Coach Who Prayed

Four justices hint they might be willing to overturn a Scalia opinion some saw as curtailing the free exercise of religion.


Quelle Horreur! New York Times Shocked to Learn That People Who Disagree with the New York Times Have Constitutional Rights

Conservatives didn’t weaponize the First Amendment; the authors of the Bill of Rights did.


Agency Fees Could Be Back on Death Row

If the four Supreme Court justices who sided with Friedrichs vote to hear Mark Janus’s case, and if Neil Gorsuch votes according to expectations, agency fees could be dead by the end of the court’s next term.


The Future of Friedrichs

With Justice Antonin Scalia’s unexpected passing, we can’t help but ask what will happen with Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, which appeared headed to a 5-4 split.


Colorado Supreme Court Won’t Tell Legislature How to Allocate Tax Dollars

In the real world, limited resources force state legislatures to make tough choices about allocating tax dollars to roads, police, prisons, parks, and K-12 education.


Big Impact: Supreme Court Housing Decision Could Have Significant Effect on Education

The education community should be watching to see how the Supreme Court rules on a housing case from Dallas which considers whether plaintiffs can bring “disparate impact” claims under the Fair Housing Act (FHA).


Memo to Teachers’ Unions: Now Might Be a Good Time to Start Panicking

In Friedrichs, ten California teachers are arguing that agency fees (combined with onerous “opt-out” procedures) violate their rights to freedom of speech and association


Who Needs the Law When You Have OCR?

The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights lacks any reasonable legal foundation for its adventures in educational management.


Educating for Infancy

Schools, we are constantly told, are supposed to educate students for citizenship. Part of being an American citizen is learning to tolerate speech that you don’t like.


Disparate Distortions: Obama Administration Doublespeak Undermines School Discipline

Today’s guidelines announced in Baltimore by the Justice and Education Departments brings the tortured logic of disparate impact to school discipline.


Colorado School Funding Hike Goes Down in Flames

Voters think Colorado already has good schools and were not in the mood to approve the largest tax hike in state history.


Signs of Judicial Sanity in Colorado

The court’s decisive ruling upholding the constitutionality of the current system will make it much more difficult to convince Colorado voters to open their wallets.


Limiting What Students Can Say Using School Computers

Courts are undoubtedly going to be called upon to draw lines which will inevitably have some appearance of arbitrariness.


Alabama School Choice Decision as Theater of the Absurd

The AEA and other Alabama choice opponents had better pray for a miracle, or prepare for the country’s newest tax credit program to become law.


Union Contracts: Stronger than Acts of God

Few good things came out of Hurricane Katrina but one has been the transformation of the New Orleans’ school system.


School Finance Litigation: With defeats like these, who needs victories?

Last Thursday, Washington’s Supreme Court ruled that the state legislature needs to spend more on education. At first glance, the ruling looks like significant victory for the plaintiffs, but a close reading of the ruling shows that looks can be deceiving.


Public Advocates Knows Best?

In our latest Legal Beat column, Martha Derthick and I discuss a case, Renee v. Duncan, where the 9th Circuit held that teachers seeking alternative certification could not count as highly qualified under No Child Left Behind.


South Carolina Leading the Pack?

South Carolina is on the cusp of leapfrogging most of the competition by passing one of the most ambitious pieces of school choice legislation in the country.


Money and Good Intentions Won’t Fix Our Schools

Last week the media reported the apparently shocking news that the Kansas City, Missouri School District school board voted 5-4 to close nearly half of its schools, 26 of 61 schools in the district. But those familiar with the district were not surprised. The real question is not why the school board has decided to close so many schools but why it took them so long.


Is Arne Duncan’s new civil rights crusade unconstitutional?

On Monday, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced that his department will expand its efforts in civil rights enforcement. Like everything this sounds fantastic in the abstract. Who after all publicly declares that they oppose protecting civil rights? The details, though, paint a more troublesome picture.


Christian Law Firms Are Leading Defenders of Free Speech in Schools

In “Strange Bedfellows,” Martha Derthick and I wrote on a case out of Texas, Palmer v. Waxahachie Independent School District, that brought two unusual groups together on the same side: supporters of John Edwards and Christian conservatives.


Legal Beat Update

The new issue of Education Next includes a “legal beat” column by Martha Derthick and myself that discusses three important rulings from the Supreme Court’s last term. “Receiving almost no attention but potentially of utmost significance,” we wrote, “was Horne v. Flores, a case about English-language learning in which the court divided narrowly along ideological lines, with Kennedy joining the five-member majority.” Anyone doubting the potential significance of the Supreme Court’s decision in Horne v. Flores should consider two recent developments in Florida and Colorado.


Colorado Supreme Court Jumps into the Abyss of School Finance

Colorado’s state Supreme Court defied national trends on Monday, handing down a decision in Lobato v. State that thrusts the judiciary into the middle of the state’s educational finance disputes.

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