After the War between the States, Congress set standards for rebel States, if they were to be readmitted to the Union. Mind you, they had no choice in being readmitted. That was settled at Appomattox, the first time (and hopefully, the last time) a constitutional crisis was settled by force and not reason. One of these standards was to provide public education.
Currently, there are lawsuits to make public education a constitutional right. The argument goes that Article 4, Section 4 of the Constitution and the 14th Amendment requires this. One needs to worry when a right already established by law is being held to not exist, as this lawsuit presupposes. The idea appears to be that the States would have to provide a curriculum that adequately prepares students for citizenship. They are:
Martinez v. Malloy
Filed: Aug. 23, 2016, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut
Argument: The Constitution guarantees substantial equality of education opportunity; Connecticut’s policies limiting charter schools, magnet schools, and interdistrict transfers violate students’ due process and equal-protection rights.
Status: Judge Alvin W. Thompson dismissed all but one claim in the lawsuit, charging the state with failing to fulfill its duty of public administration. That claim is pending.
Gary B. v. Snyder
Filed: Sept. 23, 2016, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
Argument: The Constitution contains an implied right of access to literacy instruction; state policymakers provided Detroit students with such a substandard literacy education that it fell afoul of the students’ due process and equal-protection rights.
Status: Judge Stephen J. Murphy III dismissed the lawsuit. The plaintiffs have appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit.
A.C. v. Raimondo
Filed: Nov. 29, 2018, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island
Argument: The Constitution contains an implied right to an education that prepares young people to be capable citizens, including voting and serving on a jury. Rhode Island’s failure to provide this education violates multiple constitutional rights and a section of the Constitution guaranteeing a “republican form of government.”
Source: Education Week
Now, ok, I agree that there should be charter schools, magnet schools, no limits on interdistrict transfers. All of those policies buttress up the public schools’ monopoly. And indeed, when public schools provide substandard instruction, then there is inequity. But should we, as a nation, impose these things on States?
I should simply whisper, “Betsy Voss” to progressives who want national education and see them have hysterics. My point is to question the whole idea of national standards. Look at “Core Curriculum,” which has math problems that are incomprehensible, even to mathematicians.
You may ask yourself what the question is. Beats me.
As to federal standards for citizenship?
The Medford, Oregon school district got a bargain of history books that annotated the Constitution. (Guess which Amendments got annotations that favored one side over the other in interpretation. You guessed The Second Amendment? Congratulations.) The School Board finally decided to use the books (Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth) but decided maybe the actual Constitution should be passed out as a supplement.
You can argue that education is a right. That “republican institutions” presupposed it. I suppose, as long as teachers stop indoctrinating their views on the electoral college and the powers of the Presidency. (It isn’t ‘undemocratic,’ unless you think that 18 counties imposing their will on everybody else is the high point of democracy, and no, the President doesn’t get to subsidize companies or do an end run around the law.) Adam Smith thought public education was essential to capitalism. But what of parents’ rights?
Shouldn’t you be able to raise your children according to your religion? Shouldn’t a Christian community have a nativity scene at the local school? Institutionalized atheism wasn’t what the radical Republicans had in mind when they imposed public education on rebel States. They wanted literacy and arithmetic. They wanted you to be able to read the notice that said there was a meeting to discuss public policy—and no content was imposed. Meetings that took place including union organizing and suffragettes, but also the KKK.
Education may be a right, but “re-education” isn’t.