United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Dignity & Justice for All Humanity
- Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
- Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
- Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.
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The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Education is Primarily a State and Local Responsibility
States and communities, as well as public and private organizations of all kinds establish schools and colleges, develop curricula, and determine requirements for enrollment and graduation. The structure of education finance in America reflects this predominant State and local role. Of the over one trillion dollars being spent annually nationwide on education at all levels, a substantial majority will come from State, local, and private sources. This is especially true at the elementary and secondary level, where about 92 percent of the funds will come from non-Federal sources.
That means the Federal contribution to elementary and secondary education is about 8 percent, which includes funds not only from the Department of Education (ED) but also from other Federal agencies, such as the Department of Health and Human Services’ Head Start program and the Department of Agriculture’s School Lunch program.
Although the Department of Education’s share of total education funding in the U.S. is relatively small, the department targets its taxpayer-provided dollars where they can do the most good. This targeting reflects the historical development of the Federal role in education as a kind of “emergency response system,” a means of filling gaps in State and local support for education when critical national needs arise.
U.S. Department of Education
“Compulsory education laws require children to attend a public or state-accredited private school for a certain period of time. There are certain exceptions, most notably homeschooling, but virtually all states have mandates for when children must begin school and how old they must be before dropping out. Typically, children must start school by the age of six and remain enrolled until they are at least 16. These laws were put in place not only to improve literacy rates but also to discourage the widespread child labor practices of the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to enact a compulsory education law in 1852, having already passed a similar law in 1647 when it was still a British colony. The 1852 law required every city and town to offer primary school, focusing on grammar and basic arithmetic. Parents who refused to send their children to school were fined and (in some cases) stripped of their parental rights, and their children apprenticed to others.
Prior to the Massachusetts law and in other states without such laws, education typically was provided by private schools run by churches. Since they also charged tuition, poorer children were excluded or received informal schooling at home. That would change during the immigration boom between the 19th and 20th centuries, as education was seen as the best way to assimilate immigrant children.
During that time, numerous states enacted compulsory education laws designed to take education out of the hands of parochial schools and primarily into the purview of state-run, public schools. These actions were taken in a growing response to fear of “immigrant” values and the Catholic Church itself. The Supreme Court later overturned these so-called “compulsory education” laws that required students to attend public schools only.
Another motivation was the growing public concern over child labor and the belief that compulsory attendance at school would discourage factory owners from exploiting children. In fact, Alabama temporarily repealed its compulsory education law in response to pressure from a large textile company in the state.
Mississippi was the last state to pass a law requiring school attendance in 1917. Still, enforcement of these state laws was largely ineffective until states began to realize the value of an educated workforce.”
For more information: https://education.findlaw.com/education-options/compulsory-education-laws-background.html