Must all children go to school?

The article “Must all children go to school?” chronicles the history of compulsory education in America. Beginning in the 1920’s in Oregon there has been a string of court cases debating compulsory public education. The first drafts of these laws required that every child between the ages of 8 and 16 attend a public school, later this law would be amended to require all children of the appropriate age to attend a public school or equivalent educational institution. The only amendment to these laws is made for the Amish. After an Amish child passes 8th grade they are no longer required to attend school as this conflicts with the religious beliefs of the Amish. No other religious organization, parent, or group has been awarded this same exemption; all other children must attend school.

 Private schools and homeschooling are two alternatives to public education about which there has been much discussion, more specifically concerning homeschooling. Each state has different requirements concerning schooling students at home. Some states require that homeschooling be taught by a qualified teacher or a parent who has undergone teacher training and many other states require that homeschoolers are monitored by the school districts in which they reside. There have also been questions raised about homeschooled students’ eligibility to participate in sports and enroll in certain academic classes at a public school.

Parents with students attending a school with no religious affiliation are allowed a certain amount of voice concerning the curriculum taught within a school. A parent is allowed to request a student be exempted from any part of the curriculum that they object to because of any religious reason. Also, parents may request that a student be exempted from any part of the curriculum that is not “essential for citizenship”.

There are still bugs to be worked out in compulsory public education in America. If we require every parent to send their children to school, we must find ways to satisfy their desires for their children’s’ education. Debates about homeschoolers in public schools and the curriculum that is used is always are always hot topics and are currently being dealt with at state levels.


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