Why Doesn’t the Constitution Guarantee the Right to Education?

Did you know that public education is not explicitly guaranteed by the Constitution?  Unlike the other countries to whom the U.S. is often compared, quality and equitable education is not a federal right.  A recent book on education law by a team of law professors explains it like this:

Although it mentions neither “education” nor “schools,” the Constitution has been interpreted to empower Congress to use its taxing and spending authority for educational purposes and to adopt certain types of legislation affecting schools in receipt of federal funds. Apart from this, the federal role in governing schools is extremely limited, largely because the Tenth Amendment stipulates that “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.” Because the power to created and operate schools has neigher been delegated to Congress nor denied to the states, the United States does not have a centralized educational governance and policymaking structure. The resulting system of state and local control complicates the study of education law because the rules often vary widely from one state to the next.

This has caused some advocates to push for a constitutional ammendment specifcally for education! The author, Stephen Lurie, argues that a new Amendment might be the only hope for equitable education:

Each of the countries ahead of the U.S. has a fundamental commitment in common, one that the America doesn’t: a constitutional, or statutory, guarantee of the right to education. By centralizing education as a key focus of the state, these countries establish baseline requirements that set the frame for policy and judicial challenges, as well as contribute to what the Pearson report calls a “culture” of education: where “the cultural assumptions and values surrounding an education system do more to support or undermine it than the system can do on its own.”

Read the rest @ The Atlantic

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