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Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly

Abstract

This Note provides a comparative critique to the special education practices in the U.S. and Canada. The Note reasons that a country or democracy is most benefitted when there is a recognized governmental duty to maximize the potential of every student via public education. The Note further exposes how a difference in governmental duty to provide equal education drastically affects students’ dignity and potential. This Note describes the history of the American public education system; explains the development of special education in the United States and the ambiguous governmental duty to educate American students; and discusses Canadian case law regarding special education to show that providing access to equal educational opportunities promotes a healthy democracy. Ultimately, this Note argues that in defining education as a right, rather than a service, America can better establish equality in public education and foster the human potential of all students to become productive members of society.

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