The Right to an Education, Part I
Education, "that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations", is one of the most critical issues in any society. How we raise our children reflects our values and beliefs and affects what our nation will become. It is vital to the preservation of our liberty, in fact. But is it a right? And if so, what does that mean? According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted December 10, 1948,
(1)Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher
education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.

On what basis is education considered a right? According to the International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, "its recognition as a human right is derived from the indispensability of education to the preservation and enhancement of the inherent dignity of the human person".

According to this view, education is a right and therefore must be provided to the individual by society. It is an alluring, deceptive and very modern view of rights. Even Joel Turtel, author of Public Schools, Public Menace: How Public Schools Lie To Parents and Betray Our Children adheres to this view as he attempts to argue that education is not a right, but a privilege.
What is an economic "right" such as the alleged right to an education? A "right" means that a person has a claim on the rest of society (other Americans) to give him some product or service he wants, regardless of whether he can pay for it or not.
He goes on to argue that this "right" is what is sustaining our public education system and consequently is destroying the education of our children. Unfortunately, he does not do a satisfactory job refuting the notion that education is a right, although that is his thesis. His views tend to be more reactionary. He accepts the foundation of the opposing argument and merely attacks the structure which is built upon that foundation.

Of course, just because he does not argue his point well does not mean that he is necessarily wrong. But a quick google search brings up 1,250,000 sites discussing whether education is a right or a privilege. So far, all that I have glanced through support the UN's conclusion that education is a right and thus must be provided by the state. Poorly constructed arguments are not going to serve our children well as we enter a new age of federal control and direction in education.

I'll outline my views tomorrow. In the meantime, what do you think?

Is education a right or a privilege? On what basis? And what does that mean for our children and society?

Part II

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