The Harvard Civil Rights—Civil Liberties Law Review published Michael Rebell’s “The Rights to Comprehensive Educational Opportunity” in March of 2012, Volume 47, No. 1. In this article, Rebell seeks to establish a statutory and Constitutional basis for the right to a comprehensive educational opportunity for all children in the United States; he states that this constitutional right is a joint responsibility of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches.
In order to overcome the impediments of poverty on children’s ability to achieve in an academic setting, Rebell argues that disadvantaged children must be provided with comprehensive services alongside important school-based educational resources, including: early childhood, health, after-school and other extended learning opportunities, and family supports.
Rebell posits that this constitutional right should be clearly stated in the re-authorization of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA); the original NCLB implicitly established the right to a comprehensive educational opportunity through the goal of providing all children “fair, equal, and substantial” educational opportunities and requiring that all children be proficient in meeting 2014 state standards.
Moreover, dozens of state education adequacy cases and a range of federal equal protection decisions conclude that students from disadvantaged backgrounds are entitled to these critical educational support services and resources.
According to Rebell and a growing array of social science research, the national pursuit of equity and excellence can only be achieved through efforts to eliminate the socioeconomic barriers harming low-income students and ensure that disadvantaged students receive the essential services and supports needed for school success. Further, Rebell argues that there is a national moral imperative to provide this meaningful educational opportunity to all children, even during these hard economic times.