Shaping the Future of Education Law Scholarship

The Education and Law Journal focuses on legal issues in school systems and plays a prominent role in educational scholarship.
Copy of the Ed Law Journal
A copy of the Ed Law Journal. Photo by Brooke Goulding.

 

Since 1992, BYU’s Education and Law Journal (ELJ) has provided the world with scholarship that positively affects legal and policy issues in elementary, secondary, and higher education. Not everyone realizes the frequency with which the field of education engages with statutes and civil rights issues, but it is vital for education and law to be closely connected.

ELJ began in the McKay School’s Educational Leadership and Foundations Department (EDLF); shortly after its inception, it became a joint publication with the BYU’s J. Reuben Clark Law School. EDLF professor Scott Ferrin, J.D., Ed.D., currently oversees the journal. He has been an adjunct professor at the law school for over 20 years and has been the faculty advisor to the journal for most of that time. Ferrin has seen the journal develop from a regional journal to its current status as a journal that publishes the best national scholars in the field of education law. “Our basic mission,” said Ferrin, “is to provide engaging, cutting edge, seminal research that enhances the highest purposes of law and education, fostering equity, inclusion, effectiveness, and fairness in educational settings.” 

The contributing articles come from students, law professors, and other legal scholars and practitioners from both BYU and across the country. The tier 1 journal is published biannually, and its content addresses a wide range of topics: academic freedom, security in public schools, functional behavior assessments, constitutional concerns, etc. Readers from around the world have downloaded the journal over 200,000 times, with more than 50,000 downloads over the past year from national and global users ranging from China to Africa.

Spencer Weiler and Scott Ferrin with the Ed Law Journal.
Spencer Weiler (Left) and Scott Ferrin (Right) with a copy of the Ed Law Journal.
Photo by Brooke Goulding.

Previously, the articles were being curated by law students through student editorial review, which is the norm in law reviews. Now the journal uses actual peer review from its national board of legal scholars and practitioners. As part of the new growth and development of the journal, there are now a group of reviewers on the editorial board (over 18 members currently) made up of the former advisory board and other national prominent professors and practitioners. Ferrin serves on the national board for the Education Law Association, and EDLF Associate Professor Spencer Weiler, who also works on ELJ, is an immediate past member of that board.

Ferrin has also created an executive board to help with the journal. The EDLF Department now has a full-time master’s policy program with full-time students, some of whom serve on the executive board. They also have doctoral students in the Department of Educational Inquiry Measurement and Evaluation (EIME) who are on the board. Ferrin is the main point of contact, allowing for a constant source of communication.

Erin Cranor—a joint law school and master’s in educational leadership student and a former member of the Clark County School Board, assists Ferrin as student editor-in-chief. Other students also serve on the board and work on the journal, including Nathan Schmutz, EdD, a first-year law student; Joseph Hanks, an EIME doctoral student, and full-time administrator and researcher at BYU; and Catherine Becker, a master’s student in public policy. Weiler serves on the executive board for the journal.

Because of ELJ’s success, other national journals are watching and learning from their methods. ELJ articles have even been used and cited in law cases. With all these changes, however, the focus of the journal has not changed. “The focus is all about education law and policy and seeking to foment equity, fairness, and consistent application of the law in educational settings,” said Ferrin.

Click here to see ELJ’s latest publications.

Writer: Cameron Hussein

Contact: Cynthia Glad (801) 422-1922