Petria May is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Public Service at NYU's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.
Petria May is a graduate of Yale College and Columbia Law School. She practiced corporate law for six years and served as law clerk to a federal district judge for one glorious year. An educator for a decade, May teaches high school English to a diverse population of students who go on to attend competitive colleges. She has also taught legal writing to law students, business writing to NYU students, and she has periodically lectured on the semiotics of style at Dartmouth College. May's tenure as an educator has afforded her the opportunity to assist students' development of their critical thinking and analytical writing skills by engaging in a variety of techniques including Socratic questioning. She delights in scaffolding all students toward making meaningful connections between their rich, existing knowledge bases and the unexplored information and ideas that she introduces in an affirmative classroom setting.
This course intends to negotiate the intersection of law, race, and education by considering their multiple layers and cross-cultural history in education in the United States. We will strive to teach beyond—and perhaps constructively disrupt—the racial binary of Black and white that has historically muffled more comprehensive discussions of law, race and education.
Broad subject areas will include: Prohibition against the education of enslaved people and how it reverberates to contemporary history (example: The Tragedy of America's Rural Schools, a New York Times investigation); coerced education of Native Americans in Christian schools and its effect on whole-self education; the negative effect of the Naturalization Act of 1870 on non-white people; the miseducation of interned Americans of Japanese descent; and the diminished education of migrant children living in detention. We will ask which policies and priorities have led to such outcomes and what clear and creative measures can be taken to prevent their repetition in the future. We will further discuss the distinction between policy and law as well as the role of not-for-profit organizations in preventing injustices in law, race and education. This essential historical and legal context established in the class will allow students to bring new insight to contemporary policy issues and ultimately lead to previously unexplored remedies.