Adolescents in Educational Systems
Much of adolescents’ daily activities involves schooling, and it might be assumed that the legal system concerns itself with the extent to which students receive quality educations and with the need to ensure that schools provide appropriate curricular opportunities. But, that is not the case, with a few notable exceptions like those involving discrimination (and addressed in another chapter). Instead, concerns center on the schools’ power to shape students’ learning environments, especially when schools suspect or seek to prevent misbehavior. As a result, the major constitutional cases involving educational systems focus on the ability of schools to limit students’ freedoms and reduce protections from governmental intrusions. Examples include the power of schools to limit students’ speech (First Amendment) as well as expand the ability of schools to invade students’ privacy (Fourth Amendment) and exert control (such as through corporal punishment, the Eighth Amendment). Although the Court long announced that students have constitutional rights in school settings (especially in public schools), the cases that have developed in this area of the law reveal that students are not the constitutional persons the Court has held them up to be. This chapter presents materials exploring the nature of students’ limited rights, rationales for their limitations, and their implications. This context complements well others, such as those including child welfare and family life, as it provides yet another example of the Constitution’s focus on limiting the government’s power.