Tuesday, July 28, 2009

'A fundamental human right'

Dr. Charles Glenn is a professor at Boston University's School of Education. From 1970 to 1991, he was the director of urban education and equity for the Massachusetts Department of Education. Last year at a White House summit on faith-based urban schools, Dr. Glenn reminded his listeners that "the right of parents to choose the schools that children attend is an internationally accepted norm."
Every country in the world except North Korea, Vietnam, and Cuba allows parents to choose schools. Every western democracy except the United States provides public funding to support those choices. As you all know, I think, under a decision of the Supreme Court in 1925, that right of parents to choose schools is recognized in American law as well. But there's a fundamental equity issue in the American situation in that parents who lack the resources to support nongovernment education for their children, are not able to exercise the right that they possess under those international norms.

The various international covenants for human rights spell out clearly that this is a fundamental human right, and the United Nations and UNESCO have both agreed that it is fundamental in vindicating the right to education that the education provided not only be adequate, but that it be acceptable to parents.

The rest of his remarks (which begin on page 74) are worth reading. The PDF is here.

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