Resource: Plyler v. Doe: The Landmark Maldef Case That Changed Education in America

By: MALDEF in History

December 1, 2018


Every child deserves a fair chance to learn and thrive. That might seem an obvious statement today, but it took years of legal battles fought by MALDEF to ensure that “every” child did not exclude any child – particularly, immigrant children.

After nearly five years of litigation, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1982 that all children, regardless of immigration status, have a constitutional right to a free public education from kindergarten to 12th grade. The landmark case, Plyler v. Doe, grew out of a 1977 attempt by the Tyler Independent School District in Texas to oust the children of undocumented workers – farmhands, for the most part – from the school system by imposing tuition of as much as $1,000 per student to attend what were for everyone else free public schools.

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Clearinghouse Links to External Resources

Related Cases:

Doe v. Plyler