The Judicial Role in Educational Policy Making: Promise or Threat?

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Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Education Policy, Canada, Judicial Role, Judicial Activism, Judicial Restraint, Judicial Policy-Making


The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms has thrust lawyers and judges into the arena of educational policy-making. Does their arrival impose burdens or confer benefits upon the players in this arena? Prior to the Charter, the courts displayed considerable deference to educators' decisions. The Charter, however, has provided a framework for considering educational policy and practice in the light of legal values. Judicial deference to educators' values will be less automatic than in the past. Charter decisions to date have revealed courts that are cautious but willing when it comes to involving themselves in educational policy. Whether the infusion of legal values into the educational milieu imposes burdens or confers benefits cannot be answered until society determines clearly its educational agenda. Insofar as this agenda should include teaching fairness, justice, and tolerance, the Charter's impact on education should be of considerable benefit.