Thursday, July 21, 2011

Forced haircut=constitutional violation?

This article caught my eye. It might be because the previous hour of my bar study was dedicated to Constitutional Law. Or it might be because I am the new attorney that discusses Constitutional Law issues for fun.

On the one hand, parents have a right to parent their children as they see fit. The issue, though, is that when you place a child in the public school system, whether or not the parent wants to, they are subjecting their child to the rules of the government. Some will say that if parents have a problem with the way that the school is telling them how to parent, the parent should enroll the child in private school. While this is a valid point, as there is no fundamental right to education, the fact remains that children are legally required to attend school up to the age of 16. This places the parent in an awkward place: either they pay the thousands of dollars to put their children in a private school (while still paying tax dollars to fund the public school), or they check their fundamental right to raise their children at the schoolhouse gate.

The most compelling argument, as I see it, is that while the school has no constitutional right to parent the child from 8am-3pm, the purpose of school is greater served by allowing the school to have a little constitutional leeway. At school, children are taught math, reading, english, science, and the like. However, the real lessons they learn cannot be found in a textbook. School teaches the children to play fair, get along with others, follow rules, and respect authority. Furthermore, it gives children a voice. At school, the child can form his or her own political beliefs, those which might stand in opposite of their parents'. Therefore, while I cannot argue with the parent's constitutional right to raise children, I think a child is best served, as the future of our country, by granting them the ability to fight their own battles. While it appears that the public school is parenting, what it is really doing is forcing children to think for themselves politically.