Education – A Basic Human Right?

I have been blogging on immigration a lot, trying to get past the alleged transgressions of my parents and making a case for the DREAM Act. Yet, I also sincerely believe that at the heart of this debate is our basic and fundamental right to education and how it is being squashed due to our “illegal alien” status in this country (which, again, is NOT something we chose for ourselves).

In the 1984 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations adopted education as a basic human right. While there are no limits or methods set to determine just HOW much education is a “right,”  it is clear that to compete for most jobs and in the global political economy, higher education has become increasingly necessary in the past 20 years.

In the United States, students are required to attend K-12 in the least but education has NOT been deemed as a basic human right by the legislature or the courts. In the precedent-setting case of Plyer v. Doe, the courts held that “education is not a fundamental right” even while ruling that undocumented students could not be denied K-12 public education because it “imposes a lifetime hardship on a discrete class of children not accountable for their disabling status.”

The majority opinion in Plyer v. Doe went onto say:

The deprivation of public education is not like the deprivation of some other governmental benefit. Public education has a pivotal role in maintaining the fabric of our society and in sustaining our political and cultural heritage; the deprivation of education takes an inestimable toll on the social, economic, intellectual, and psychological well-being of the individual, and poses an obstacle to individual achievement.

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