Education policy has become a subject discussed so widely that Indiana University's law school has decided that area of study deserves its own specialization. So, the Indiana University Maurer School of Law has approved a program that would allow students studying for their JD to choose education policy as a minor to complement their law degree. The student choosing to pursue the minor will have to take 12 credits from the IU School of Education in addition to their law school coursework.
The move to add the minor grew out of the desire expressed by a number of students over the years to take education policy credits while enrolled at the law school. An increasing number of students who graduated from law school chose to pursue education policy doctorates as well.
"There are a healthy number of students in the law school who have been former teachers, or if they haven't are just interested in education policy," said Suzanne Eckes, associate professor in educational leadership and policy studies at the IU School of Education. Eckes is also an attorney and former classroom teacher. She teaches several education-law-related courses and is a co-author of "Principals Teaching the Law: 10 Legal Lessons Your Teachers Must Know."
Hannah L. Buxbaum, the interim dean and the chair of the department of legal ethics at Maurer said that she welcomed the opportunity to work with the School of Education, helping students refine their interest in education and prepare them to pursue work in the field after graduation.
At least a dozen law students have applied to the IU doctoral program in education policy since 2003. Eckes said that they usually hear about the program either from her courses or from the courses taught by Chancellor's Professor Emerita Martha McCarthy, and they express an interest in pursuing the subject further.
Several past law graduates have earned School of Education doctorates and hold positions as university faculty members, university legal counsel, associates at private law firms and staff attorneys for the Indiana Department of Education.
Eckes added that study of law and education policy is a great combination and the new program joining the two is just the latest of a trend of making the study of law a more multidisciplinary endeavor. Eckes hopes that Maurer will add more such minors in the future.
As one of the top ten law schools in the United States, Maurer has long experimented with different approaches to the discipline and is always working on innovative new ways to teach the subject to its students. In addition to the JD degree, the school also offers several masters degree programs in combination with other schools in the Indiana University system.