Practical Education Law for the Twenty-First Century, Authored By Suffolk Law Professor Victoria Dodd, Informs and Impacts a Wide Range of Audiences

3/13/2003

By Tony Ferullo

Victoria J. Dodd, a well-respected professor at Suffolk University Law School for more than 20 years, can’t curb her enthusiasm. Sitting back in her office chair, a smile crosses her face as she passionately talks about the completion of her first book, the newly released Practical Education Law for the Twenty-First Century.

“It was the most difficult academic effort of anything I’ve ever done,” explained Dodd, a national expert in the area of education law. “It sounds exciting to say you’re writing a book, but you never know how much work it’s going to be. It’s an arduous task. I’ve worked seven days a week for the last five years to finish this.”

She pauses for a moment, reflecting on the tedious and challenging undertaking she has just conquered. “I have newfound respect,” said Dodd, “for people who finish books.”

Published by Carolina Academic Press, Practical Education Law for the Twenty-First Century is a one-volume, 408-page treatise that covers the real-life issues confronting education lawyers, administrators, school board members and teachers on a daily basis. The goal of this text is to concisely summarize the law in a given area, suggest trends and issues of concern, and provide practical advice to meet important legal and policy challenges.

Practical Education Law for the Twenty-First Century is organized into10 chapters, each dealing with a major substantive legal area in education law. A sampling of the topics covered include school finances, school search and crime issues, residency and fee issues, basic labor law, alternative education and charter schools, vouchers, injuries to students, athletics, the role of local and state school boards, and the overall organization and regulation of public education in the United States.

“There is very little material available in the area of education law issues, so there is a definite need for a book like this,” said Dodd, whose students are using Practical Education Law for the Twenty-First Century this semester. “I’m hoping that some of my ideas and research will play a small role in the huge national movement in our country to change and reform education.”

This highly readable text is extremely accessible and useful for non-legal audiences, as well as for legally trained professionals. Detailed indexes and tables of contents make this book an easy-to-use reference tool for problem solving, in addition to serving as a source for more extensive research.

“The book offers something for everyone in the fields of education and law,” said the 54-year-old author who lives in Boston. “The purpose is for people to see the different ways how they can make our schools better.”

A graduate of Harvard University, cum laude, and of the University of Southern California Law School, Dodd proudly served as a public high school teacher in California. A former Chair of the Education Law Section of the Association of American Law Schools, Dodd has written extensively in the education law field during her 20-year career in academia.

Growing up in Los Angeles, Dodd was only 15 years old when her mother passed away from cancer. She was raised by her father and grandparents who, in their own quiet way, preached to her the importance of education and culture (she took piano and violin lessons). Her grandfather, Walter Nossaman, a 1912 Harvard Law School graduate, spoke five languages and would read French novels after dinner each night.

“I remember as a child when he would pay me a dollar to memorize a poem,” she said. “He was a real inspiration in my life.”

As a professor at Suffolk Law, Dodd continually encourages her students to express themselves. “I don’t want to train robots and hired guns,” she said. “I want my students to have their own views.”

When she’s not teaching others, Victoria Dodd enjoys following the stock market, traveling around the world, oil painting and going to the opera. She says one of her future goals is to write another book, perhaps a mystery with a political twist.

She leans forward in her chair and grabs a copy of Practical Education for the Twenty-First Century off her desk. “Right now,” she says, holding up the book while breathing a sigh of relief, ” I’m happy with this.”

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