Compulsory Education Essay

Compulsory Education Amanda Wambles Education 2100 Dr. Shelia Pirkle February 10th, 2008 Compulsory education is education which children are required by law to receive and governments are required to provide. The compulsion is an aspect of public education. In some places home schooling may be a legal alternative to attending school. (Compulsory Education, 2009) Plato’s Republic popularized the notion of compulsory education in the Western acedemic deliberation. The Aztec’s had one of the first compulsory education systems.

They believed all male children should be required to attend school until they were 16 years of age. Most countries now have compulsory education through out primary and often extending into secondary education. Modern compulsory attendance laws were first enacted in Massachusetts in 1853 follwed by New York in 1854. By 1918, all states had compulsory attendance laws. (Encyclopedia of Everyday Law) Compulsory education at the primary level was affirmed as a human right in the1948 Universal Decleration of Human Rights. Compulsory Education, 2009) Every state requires children to be enrolled in school by a certain age. More than half of the states require that students be enrolled by the age of six, the rest require enrollment between the ages five to eight. Most states require children to stay in school until they are sixteen years of age, other states seventeen to eighteen years of age. These age requirements are very controversial. Many early childhood experts argue that if policy makers establish early cut off dates for kindergarten, they should also establish aggressive school readiness programs to ensure students’ success.

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Others argue that because there has been an increased emphasis on early childhood development and school rediness, we should continue to challenge at a younger age. (Education Program, 2009) Today there are penalties for non-compliance with these requirements. Truency is now a misdemeanor in almost every state with a penalty which includes a fine for the first offense. The fines range from $20 to $100 and increase for additional offenses from $250 to $1000.

Most states have the option of sentencing parents for as long as thirty day in jail for not sending their children to school. Some states have alternatives such as counseling or community service. As a result of compulsory education we now have very large, publicly-funded schools that are linked to property taxes and zoning restrictions. There are government mandated curriculim and standardized tests that are a benefit for teachers. However there are few incentives for students to master material and no options for those that drop out of the system.

There are many benefits to compulsory education. Before compulsory education most children were denied access to a basic education and forced into the work field as child laborers. Often children grew up unprepared to train for a vocation or profession. As with all positives there are also many neatives. For example John Taylor Gatto, who wrote The Underground History of American Education, thinks the real reason for schooling is to make children more manageable for there future work in mass producing economy.

Real education is not the intent, Gatto claims, as a very well educated populace would be more difficult to control. (Compulsory Education, 2009) Another critic Dennis Evans, a former high school principle and director of credential programs for the department of education at the University of California, Irvine states “because of its university, compulsory education is perhaps the greatest mischeif maker”. (Evans, 2006) “We can bring children to the schoolhouse, but that doesn’t mean the educatuion is occuring”. Evans, 2006) He suggest changing the age that children are required to remain in school to 14 or 15 instead of 18 years of age. It should be the students desire to be there. School should not be precieved as punishment but as a “ good place to be”. (Evans, 2006) Children should be told plainly and simply that if they cannot respect other students and the teachers they can leave. This program would be called the “easy out” program. There must then be an “easy return” policy as well.

Once the student has opted out, or has been dropped from school, decides that he or she wishes to return, that return should be made easy and expeditious. (Evans, 2006) When the student comes back punishments such as in-school suspension or detention sould not be nessassary. However if the student falls back into the non-engaged pattern, then “easy out” should be invoked by the school, with no further right of return. (Evans, 2006) Certainly this would raise a very interesting and intriging question. Where will they go and what will they do? . References

Compulsory Education. (2009, January 17). Retrieved January 26, 2009, from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Compulsory_education Education Program. (2009). Retrieved February 8, 2009, from National Conference of Stae Legislatures : http;www. ncsl. org/programs/educ/CompulsoryEd. htm Encyclopedia of Everyday Law. (n. d. ). Retrieved January 29, 2009, from Enotes: http://www. enotes. com/everyday-law-encyclopedia/compulsory-education Evans, D. L. (2006). A Second Look st Compulsory Education. Education Week , 37.


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