Education, History, Law, Media Criticism, Political Commentary, Social Commentary The Public School System October 25, 2021 Rand Simberg 13 Comments Is it constitutional? I don’t think so. I’d love to see SCOTUS take it up.
13 thoughts on “The Public School System”
The public school system is at the state level.
“Is it constitutional?” is not really the question asked there – it’s “is the way it’s operated now consistent with the First Amendment?” – but that’s not inherent to “public schools”, which could easily be operated in a way not inimical to free speech.
(I think much of our schooling system/systems is/are horribly built and even counterproductive.
But it’s not obviously unconstitutional to have public schools run by the States. (I’m open to arguments that their mandatory nature is repugnant to the Constitution, but equally “being forced to go to school” is … NOT “being forced to labor”, which is the closest thing the Constitution has to a ban on coercion by the States, no?
Lots of stupid policies and bad things are perfectly Constitutional.)
School sure felt like labor to me, and the bastards wouldn’t even pay me.
Agreed – Federal involvement in education (via the Department of Education, and any other government agency that sets policy or provides funds, including the VA) is unconstitutional.
Should anyone wish to argue, please point to the clause in the US Constitution that establishes a federal involvement in education.
At the state level, that’s for the voters in the states to decide. But decide without federal involvement or funding.
I think you two are on the right track.
I’m sure some socialist progressive would point to the commerce clause, but they will need to explain how education is commerce. What is being sold across state lines?
Intellectual property. Be interesting if school books and educational materials had to be locally sourced. And if all teachers had to be solely educated at in-state schools, using locally sourced educational materials.
So any industry trading IP across state lines can be made into a government run industry? That’s an argument for the FANGS to be nationalized and run by Congress.
Oh, their usual go-to is the Necessary And Proper Clause.
It’s not for that, and it never works, but it sounds good, so they always go for it.
(What it’s for, of course, is “stuff the Constitution doesn’t enumerate but that the other powers or the core duties of government require”.
Not “anything that we feel is ‘necessary’ or ‘proper’ for a nice Progressive government to be nice and good!!!”)
The Constitution only means whatever a majority of supreme court justices say it means, actual text notwithstanding. There are countless government agencies, bureaus, and departments whose function isn’t mentioned in the Constitution. FDR’s threat to pack the supreme court was because the court was ruling against many of his New Deal policies. The packing threat appeared to fail when FDR appeared to back down, but he made his point and the court never again ruled against him going way beyond what the Constitution allowed. It has all been downhill ever since.
(I’m open to arguments that their mandatory nature is repugnant to the Constitution, but equally “being forced to go to school” is … NOT “being forced to labor”, which is the closest thing the Constitution has to a ban on coercion by the States, no?
Well that depends on the school. For example, suppose student X refuses to participate in class. Doesn’t do his/her/xe’s homework, turns in blank exams and quizzes, sleeps in class or is otherwise disruptive. Said student is sent to the office, and put under direct supervision by the principal. Now said principal can have student sit idle in the office, until parents come for them, OR maybe he decides that for punishment they should “help” the janitors clean up the schoolyard or bathrooms, whatever. Is that compelled labor? I think it’s a fine line here. Basically our State-level public education laws aren’t much different in practice than slavery for minors. You can either work in the public school plantation or a church school plantation or you can work your’s parent’s school farm. But you have to be in school. And the expectation is that one is not idle. This is backed up by State mandated competency tests, with that eventual High School diploma your license to be an employable adult.
We don’t give kids enough credit. Ultimately for me the driver to do well in school was not parental or teacher threats. It was the realization that without that HS diploma I’d be unemployable as an adult. No income meant life in the street. Then I’d have to move to California. That was just not an acceptable outcome. 🙂
Nowhere around here do students get made to do productive/otherwise-remunerative-except-school labor, either as a punishment or as part of mandatory classes.
(Auto shop class might, in an ideal world, do Real Work … but it’s voluntary job training, not forced labor.)
Mandatory public schooling is invasive compulsion akin to slavery in its practical mode [in that people are forced to do things whether or not they want to, by another party] … but it is not slave labor in the Constitutional sense.
Same reason “being in prison” isn’t enslavement, despite being coerced into a cage and prevented from living a free life.
(Forced labor in prison is another matter, and there’s a reason there’s a specific clause exempting it – because otherwise it would plainly be unconstitutional. And that clause was iffy at the time and should be repealed now.)
(Thus as above, “bad idea and unconstitutional aren’t synonyms”.)
I still think that the primary difference between going to high school and going to jail is that you have to commit a crime and be convicted in order to go to jail.
If I’d been smarter, I’d have applied for early admission to college. But the “councilor” never mentioned that option, so I spent the last two years being mostly bored and developing bad habits.
I took that option. Graduate from College at 18.
Whether or not public schools are unconstitutional, things that the schools are doing now are.
Whenever Americans decide to take the education system back from the Progressive Marxists, it will only take two generations to restore some semblance of sanity to the system.
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