(Boston, Revised 04/17/10) New England Law | Boston: Professor Monica Teixeira de Sousa’s expertise in education law issues was shared with peers from across the nation during The Association of American Law Schools’ (AALS) annual meeting, held January 6-10, 2010, in New Orleans. She presented her analysis of the Obama administration’s educational priorities while speaking on the New Law Professors Section panel, whose four members were chosen on the basis of a Call for Papers on the topic of Transformative Law.
Professor Teixeira de Sousa’s submission, A Race to the Bottom? President Obama's Incomplete and Conservative Strategy for Reforming Education in Struggling Schools or The Perils of Ignoring Poverty, critiques the federal “Race to the Top” initiative. The $4.35 billion centerpiece of the Obama administration's education reform efforts is a national competition that aims to raise standards, reward effective educators, and turn around low-performing schools, among other goals.
Professor Teixeira de Sousa takes issue with the initiative’s failure to explicitly address the relationship between our persistently lowest-achieving schools and concentrated poverty. She noted, “The Race to the Top Fund places sole responsibility for reforming struggling schools narrowly on the schools themselves, on teachers, and administrators. Instead of enacting measures at the federal level to support the work of high-poverty schools in meeting the challenges they face on a daily basis, the Fund may further weaken public education in America by closing down schools, opening charter schools, and by seeking to replace wholesale our teachers and administrators.”
She continued, “By ignoring poverty, the Fund is likely to make matters worse, not better, for the children in this country whose lives, and not just test scores, are currently stunted by poverty.” She maintains that the Race to the Top program does not adequately consider nor seek to address the impact of poverty and other factors that can contribute to low test results.
A native of Lisbon, Portugal, Professor Teixeira de Sousa is of Cape Verdean ancestry and grew up in Rhode Island, where she has used her legal skills to assist the state’s Portuguese and Cape Verdean Creole speaking community. She is a former chair of the Rhode Island Education Justice Council and she has been a featured presenter on education law topics.
At New England Law | Boston, she teaches Education and the Law, Education and Class Mobility, Family Law, and Property. Before joining the faculty in 2007, she was staff attorney at Rhode Island Legal Services, where she began practicing in 2002 as a Skadden Fellow. She received her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and her B.A. from Brown University.
The Call for Papers was open to full-time law teachers for five years or fewer years of experience. The Stetson Law Review will publish the selections in a special volume later this year.
New England Law | Boston is a member of AALS, a nonprofit educational association of 171 law schools representing over 10,000 law faculty in the United States.