Brooklyn Law Review


Gus Ipsen


New York has the most segregated public school system of any state in America. Nearly seven decades removed from the US Supreme Court’s seminal ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, New York has done little beyond clearing Brown’s baseline mandate of not explicitly segregating students on the basis of race. In part, the forces that shape admissions policies—politics, bigotry, and powerful parents, to highlight a few—have been left unchecked because the transcendent power of the state’s courts has been sealed off. In 2003, the New York Court of Appeals in Paynter v. State firmly shut the door on plaintiffs challenging school segregation under the education article of the state Constitution. Drawing on the successes of education litigation in various other states, this note proposes new language for New York’s education article—unchanged since 1894—that will better reflect contemporary research and realities. A refashioned legal predicate can give all familes and advocates a pathway for leveraging the muscle of the courts in the push towards greater equity in school admissions and educational outcomes.