[Discuss-sudbury-model] What gives the state the right to *make us* go to school in the first place?

From: <reb_at_philadelphiafreeschool.org>
Date: Fri Sep 3 00:03:00 2004

Hi list,

For those who don't know me, I'm a former staff member at a couple of Sud
schools, who decided to take my work for juvenile justice, education
reform, and youth advocacy through legal channels. I am now in my second
year of law school and am in my first course on "education law and

We began class with a discussion of some of the legal / government
structure that underpins the establishment of "free" public schooling.

Before moving on to consider a "students'" rights, I have asked my
professors, and my classmates to consider "what makes people *students* in
the first place?" Or, more accurately, what legally justifies
*compelling* people to attend school, and requiring them to submit
themselves (without a hearing) to the physical control of their teachers
(who are agents of the state) and to the ideology of the state-mandated
curriculum? This seems to run counter to the (U.S.) Constitution's
prohibition against depriving individuals of their liberty (without due

I expect there will be some attempt to shrug off the question and its
asker as conspiracy theorist in nature. I know so many of us have been
compelled by our government(s) to attend school, that we don't even tend
to see that compulsion as an infringement on our liberty.

But I know many of you have given the matter thought from a different
So I ask you. What gave the state the right to *make us* go to school in
the first place?

I know the government would have a hard time convincing anybody it could
institutionalize grown men and women for 6 hours a day, 180 days a year,
for ten or more years, without a trial.

Is it simply because the people in question are under 18 that we (via the
state govt.) can do this to them?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts on this matter.

  Direction to any texts, articles, court decisions. . . that address this
matter would also be helpful.

And if anyone expresses an interest, I'll let you know what my class has
to say.

Received on Fri Sep 03 2004 - 00:02:37 EDT

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