My past work, Beyond Bias: Cultural Capital in Anti-Discrimination Law (published in the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review) looked at the role of parental cultural capital in producing racial inequality in special education, and in Education as Property (published in the Virginia Law Review), I analyzed school district and prosecutor media narratives to explain the construction of a “crime” committed by parents who transgress school attendance boundaries. I showed how property tax school funding together with geographic-restricted attendance drives districts to treat public education as private property, an entitlement from which they can legitimately exclude Black and Brown families and children.

As a followup to that piece, I recently published Stealing Education in the UCLA Law Review. This article offers the first comprehensive 50-state examination of the “crime” identified in my previous piece. I examine the competing justifications for aggressively pursuing education thieves, and highlight one aspect of this problem: how residents in predominately-White school districts employ racial dog-whistles in the form of supposedly race-neutral reasons for why school district borders must be heavily policed. I show how, even though suburban residents rarely speak in explicitly racial terms, they rely on well-worn master narrative stereotypes associated with black parents, black children, black crime, and black neighborhoods as an additional reason – on top of fiscal reasons and appeals to “local control” – to argue that their school district needs to exclude outsiders – who “just happen” to be poor and Black.

For a symposium volume on violence in Chicago, I contributed a piece to the University of Chicago Law Review, Barbed Wire Fences: The Structural Violence of Education. The essay looked beyond physical violence and its effects on children; instead I argued that many children in a city like Chicago suffer from structural arrangements that can cause as much harm over a life time than physical violence. I specifically describe how our dominant mode of allocating education — who gets to go to what school on the basis of residence, how schools are funded and the cruel irony of local control — are harms that we must take seriously. Given the concentration of disadvantage, schools may be contributing to subordination, not undermining it.

In an essay forthcoming in the Northwestern Law Review, I argue that the education residency laws privilege a normative archetype: a middle class White nuclear family, a standard many families are unable to meet. I show that the laws that determine from whom a child can derive residence; where that child may legitimately claim one residence as home; and the requirement that a resident must “act” as a resident mimic family law debates about form v. function, contract v. status, a “-plus” regime for determining legal rights. In doing so, normative ideas about family life work to ensure exclusion from well-resourced schools. These effects will be largest on Black, single-mother headed households, who tend to rely on a network of child care over many spaces in which every day life occurs.


LaToya Baldwin Clark, Home Family School, ___ Nw. U. L. Rev. ___ (forthcoming 2022).

LaToya Baldwin Clark, Barbed Wire Fences: The Structural Violence of Education, 89 U. Chi. L. Rev. 499 (2022). link

LaToya Baldwin Clark, Stealing Education, 68 UCLA L. Rev. 566 (2021). link

LaToya Baldwin Clark, Education as Property, 105 Va. L. Rev. 397 (2019). link

LaToya Baldwin Clark, Beyond Bias: Cultural Capital in Anti-Discrimination Law, 53 Harvard C.R.-C.L. L. Rev. 381 (2018). link

LaToya Baldwin Clark, Book Review of Schooling Girls, Queuing Women: Multiple Standpoints and Ongoing Inequalities by Helen A. Moore, 86 Soc. Inquiry 127 (2015). link

LaToya Baldwin Clark, The Problem with Participation, 9 Mod. Am. 20-39 (2013). link

Prudence Carter and LaToya Baldwin Clark, Social Reproduction, in Encyclopedia of Diversity in Education (James A. Banks, ed., 2012). link