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Legal Decisions and Curriculum Practices

  • By: John Pijanowski
  • In: Encyclopedia of Curriculum Studies
  • Edited by: Craig Kridel
  • Subject:Cultural Studies (general), Curriculum & Content (general), Curriculum Studies

Since early attempts by state legislatures to formalize public school systems and standardize curriculum, the courts have played a critical role in shaping the requirements and limits of curriculum. The greatest impact of case law on school curriculum is on the role of religion, but litigation over school finance, secular values, and student equity has also affected curriculum practice.

Religious influence on public school curriculum has been a topic of debate since Ye Olde Deluder Satan Law of 1647 established publically funded, religious-based curriculum in schools of Colonial Massachusetts. Throughout the 20th century the courts established a legal framework that balances the desire of some communities to infuse religion into its public school curriculum, with the requirements of the establishment clause of the First Amendment. ...

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