by Diane Scanlon
As citizens of this great nation, we are endowed with certain
What does that mean?
Well, first of all, I am not a lawyer
and this is not legal advice. What I know, I've learned through reading
at the friendly public library and here on the Internet. I've read
enough to know that I'd bet my bottom dollar I'm right But, ask a civil
rights lawyer for a second opinion just to make sure I'm on the right
page. The way I see it is that when something is a Fundamental Right
that means that baring a compelling state interest, no one, not even the
Supreme Court can violate that right.
Now, what is a compelling state
interest? Well, let's say I don't want my son to go to school so that he
can work to help support the family. In that case the school department
and the state does have the right to interfere with my parental rights
because a compelling state interest exist that states that my son must
be educated at least until the age of 16. But , what If I'm not happy
with the way my son is being educated in the school? What if I don't
like the curriculum? What if I don't like the teachers? What if I live
in a town where there are a lot of violent kids going to school? What if
I don't like the condition of the school building? What if I don't like
the color of the Principal's tie? You see it really doesn't matter. As
long as I am willing to educate my child at home, then I don't need a
reason. And, it goes even further....
A Fundamental Right means that it is
"our" right and "our" decision as parents to direct, control, and
otherwise choose how, where and when our children will be educated. This
right does not belong to a Superintendent, not to a School Committee or
a School Board and certainly not to a Principal.
This right has been tried in the
courts already. As far back as Meyer v Nebraska, 262 U. S. 390, 67 L.
Ed. 1042 (1923), Pierce v Society of Sisters (1925) , Farington v
Tokushige (1927) and in People v Levinsen, 90 NE 2d 213 (Ill. Sup. CT.
1950), The courts have made it very clear that this right must not be
violated and for various reasons beyond freedom of religion.
In People v Levinson, the court reasoned:
"The object is that all children shall
be educated, not that they shall be educated in any particular way or
place.".........."The law is not made to punish those who provide their
children instruction equal or superior to that obtainable in public
schools. It is made for the parent who fails or refuses to properly
educate his child."
Meyer v Nebraska had to do with a
State Statute, which prohibited the teaching of a foreign language to
schoolchildren. In that case the court made it very clear that The
Constitution would not tolerate the regimentation and standardization of
young minds by government officials.
In Pierce v Society of Sisters (1925),
Farington v Tokushige (1927) and in Meyer the Supreme Court affirmed the
authority of the states to compel attendance at public or private
schools. But at the same time, however, it declared t hat the states may
neither abolish private education nor regulate it so severely that
private instruction would effectively turn into public school in a
So, if the right of parents to control
and direct the education of their children is so "Fundamentally" clear
why doesn't everybody know this? Well, they do at the schools. They just
don't tell us. They like us to think they have this "power" over us.
Maybe it's because they know that if enough of us pull our kids out
they'll take a few h its in the pocket. They get state aid for every kid
that goes to school and they don't want to lose a dime. I couldn't
possibly imagine that they don't know we have this right. Should we
believe that they know about it and are violating it anyway? Or, do we
assume that they are ignorant of the law and didn't realize they were
violating our rights?