The Law in Education – Plyler v Doe – Podcast Episode 224 | Classnotes Podcast 224

Paige Duggins ClayClassnotes Podcast (June 27, 2022). In one of those last-minute backdoor tricks, an amendment was slipped through the Texas Legislature without debate in 1975 setting off a chain of events that shoved a specific selection of children out of school. Undocumented immigrant children were suddenly excluded from education. In multiple school districts, with the help of advocates, brave parents took a stand, risking their own futures to secure their children’s.

IDRA provided extensive information for one of the first court cases dealing with the education of undocumented children in Texas, Doe v. Plyler (1978). IDRA founder, Dr. José A. Cárdenas served as an expert witness for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) during the trial in Tyler, and IDRA’s retired director of policy, Dr. Albert Cortez, testified in the Houston and Dallas court cases.

With 2022 being the 40th anniversary of the Plyler v Doe U.S. Supreme Court ruling, IDRA chief legal analyst, Paige Duggins-Clay, J.D., invited Dr. Cortez to a conversation about the ruling. In this episode that continues our series on the law in education, they discuss the history of the case, the plaintiffs, the arguments, and the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

Show length: 47:01 min

Send comments to

Sign up to receive free e-mail notices when new episodes are available.


Video version of this interview: Plyler v Doe at 40 – Schooling Guaranteed for Immigrant Children

Plyler v. Doe Supports High-Quality Schools – U.S. Supreme Court Ruling 40 Years Ago Today Confirms Immigrant Students’ Rights to Attend Public Schools (IDRA eNews Alert) • (Español)

Plyler v Doe – The Law in Education, IDRA webpage with history and resources

Welcoming Immigrant Students in School infographic (English/Spanish)

IDRA “Education of Immigrant Children” web page with tools for schools and advocates:

Happy Birthday Plyler and DACA!

MALDEF Statement on Texas Governor’s Comments on Landmark Education Ruling, May 5, 2022

Plyler v. Doe – MALDEF in History

In Memoriam Judge Justice, IDRA

Your feedback

We welcome your comments and questions to the podcast. Send an e-mail to

Listen to every episode!

To ensure you don’t miss a single episode of IDRA Classnotes, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes, (download iTunes free if you don’t have it) or sign up to receive an e-mail alert as soon as a new show is published.


Show Notes

  • Albert shares the background for Plyler v Doe, including the social, political, and education climate in Texas in the 1970s.

  • Albert and Paige talk about the plaintiff families, and the personal risk they faced by filing a lawsuit as undocumented immigrants.

  • Albert recounts his personal involvement in the case, and the role that he and IDRA played in supporting the litigation.

  • Albert outlines the main legal arguments presented before the Supreme Court, and the merits of the final 5-4 decision.

  • Paige and Albert discuss the protections that immigrant students have today – in Texas and across the nation – thanks to the Plyler v Doe ruling.