America's first education secretary passes away
- America's first secretary of education, Shirley M. Hufstedler, passed away Wednesday morning.
- The 90-year-old, a former federal and California appeals court judge, was appointed in 1979 upon the creation of the U.S. Department of Education and continued to be outspoken on education issues — particularly those related to funding and minority and immigrant students
- Education Week also reports that Hufstedler's time on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit saw her dissent on Lau v. Nichols — a case that found Chinese immigrant students' rights had not been violated when they weren't provided supplemental English lessons by the San Francisco school district, but was ultimately unanimously overruled by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1974.
As noted above, the impact Hufstedler, who returned to private law practice in 1981, had on U.S. education began long before she became the nation's first education secretary with Lau v. Nichols, a case that arguably had a lasting impact on ELL instruction requirements. Her dissent argued that “these children are more isolated from equal educational opportunity than were those physically segregated blacks” in Brown v. Board of Education.
According to Education Week, she called into question funding reductions made by the Reagan administration and their impact on minority students in 1982, called school finance an "unholy zoo" on a panel with three other former education secretaries in 1991, and continued working to improve issues around immigrant children and federal incentives for high academic standards throughout the '90s.
Aside from her education accomplishments, she was one of the first women to graduate from Stanford law school, was at the top of her class, and also founded the Stanford Law Review with her husband, Seth.
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