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The Right to Education The Right to Equal Education in the U.S. What is the Right to Education? The right to education guarantees every child equal access to quality schools and services without discrimination at every level of education, including quality teachers and curricula, and safe and welcoming school environments that respect human dignity. The human right to education includes: • Equal enjoyment of, and equal access to, educational opportunities and facilities • Compulsory and free primary education • Generally available and accessible secondary education, and equally accessible higher education • Freedom of choice in education, and freedom to establish private institutions. International Standards Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Article 26 (1948): ―Everyone has the right to education, based on the principles of inclusion and non-discrimination.‖ International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), Article 13 (1966): ―Primary education should be available to all and made progressively free.‖ Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Articles 28 and 29 (1990): ―Secondary education, including technical and vocational, should be made available to all and made progressively free.‖ ―Parents have a right to decide on the education of their children.‖ Education Must Be: Available Accessible There must be an adequate number of There must be equal access for all to school buildings, trained teachers education, especially for the most receiving competitive salaries, and vulnerable groups in society, including teaching materials to meet the needs the poor, immigrants, the disabled, of all students. In well-resourced and racially marginalized groups. This countries like the U.S., there should includes physical access to school also be libraries, computers and buildings, as well as economic access— information technology available for transportation, materials and any all. Parents should have the right to other basic costs must be affordable. choose education for their children. Adequate Acceptable Education must adapt to the needs of students ―within their diverse social ―Education, including curricula and and cultural settings,‖ such as teaching methods, must be acceptable students from different class, racial (relevant, culturally appropriate and and cultural backgrounds, students of good quality).‖ Schools must meet who do not speak the primary language standards for health and safety and of the school system, homeless discipline must not violate the dignity students, students in foster care, and of the child. students with disabilities. Human Rights at Issue The following human rights are indispensable if the right to education is to be fully realized: • The right to equality between men and women and to equal partnership in the family and society • The right to work and receive wages that contribute to an adequate standard of living • The right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, and belief • The right to freedom from discrimination in all areas and levels of education • The right to education for children of migrant workers • The right to education for persons with disabilities and the freedom from discrimination in access to education • The right to share in the benefits of scientific progress • The right to participate in shaping decisions and policies affecting one’s community, at the local, national and international levels Government Obligations To ensure the right to education, the United States has the following obligations: • RESPECT by avoiding government action that would cause violations. • PROTECT against other individuals or institutions. • FULFILL by taking action to ensure quality education. • Guarantee equity and non-discrimination • Use the maximum amount of resources available • Progressively implement by continuously working to improve education • Monitor the enforcement of human rights • Make information available • Provide remedies for violations of rights • Guarantee effective participation Does the U.S. Recognize the Right to Education? U.S. Accountability to Non-Discrimination • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), ratified by the U.S. in 1992 • International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), ratified by the U.S. in 1994 U.S. Accountability to Education (The U.S. has only signed, not ratified, the major treaties recognizing the right to education). • International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), signed by the U.S. President in 1977 • Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), signed by the U.S. president in 1995—(the CRC has been ratified by every country in the world, except for the U.S. and Somalia). How is the U.S. failing to fulfill the right to education? • The U.S. is failing in the following areas: – Available Pre-K Education – Adequate funding – Competitive Salaries – Access to Education – Disciplinary policies that respect a child’s dignity – Adaptable teaching methods – Non-discrimination – Protecting the most vulnerable Available Pre-K Education • Head Start, a program for low-income children only has enough funding to serve half of all eligible children. (Blank, 2005) • Due to a lack of Pre-K education, children from low-income families know only a ¼ as many words as children from other families by the time they enter 1st grade. (Children’s Defense Fund, 2005) Adequate Funding • High poverty schools are receive an average of $1,348 fewer tax dollars per pupil than more affluent districts. (Learning First Alliance, 2005) • The money spent on schools serving students from low-income families is more likely to fund basic repairs, such as new roofs or asbestos removal, while schools in more affluent districts are more likely to receive funds for educational enhancements such as science laboratories or performing arts centers. (BEST, 2006) Competitive Salaries • Over the last decade, teacher salaries have remained nearly flat, averaging $44,367 in 2003, just about $2,598 above what they were in 1972 (after adjusting for inflation). (Southern Education Foundation, 2001) • Southern states lag behind the nation in teacher pay. Ex: More than 1 in every 3 of Arkansas’ 311 school districts had an average teacher pay below 67% of the national average. (Education Trust, 2006) • Poor Districts—with high percentages of students of color—usually have the lowest teacher salaries. (Learning First Alliance, 2005) Access to Education • By the end of high school, the average African- American or Latino student scores at approximately the same level as the average white 8th grader. (Children’s Defense Fund, 2005) • Minority children are less likely to be in gifted and talented programs and are more likely to be in programs for children with mental retardation or emotional or behavioral disturbances. (Education Trust, 2003) • College enrollment of students of color lags behind their white counterparts and blacks are much less likely to complete their college education. (American Council on Education, 2006 and Education Trust, 2003) Access to Education • Undocumented immigrant students are limited in their access to post-secondary education. For example states are prohibited from giving in-state tuition to undocumented residents if they do not offer the same benefits to out-of- state citizens. (Biswas, 2005) • Federal law prohibits undocumented students from receiving federal loans and grants, including work-study jobs, nor are they eligible for state assistance in many states. (FinAid, 2006) Quality Education • The U.S. graduates only 75% of its students as compared to the more than 95% graduation rate common to other industrialized nations. (Darling-Hammond, 2007) • U.S. performance in Math and Science is also below average. Ex: in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), given to 4th graders in 24 countries, the average score of U.S. students ranks below that of their counterparts in 11 countries including Japan, the Netherlands, and Latvia. (NCES, 2003) Quality Education • Schools with the highest percentages of minority, limited English proficient and low-income students are more likely to employ beginning teachers and fewer teachers with masters degrees. (Children’s Defense Fund, 2004) • Schools whose students are 70% or more low-income are more than twice as likely to be overcrowded as schools whose students are less than 20% low-income. (Children’s Defense Fund, 2004) • Teachers in these high minority low-income schools also report inadequate facilities, less availability of textbooks and supplies, fewer administrative supports, and larger class sizes. (National Science Board, 2006) Disciplinary Policies that Respect a Child’s Dignity • Zero-tolerance policies common in U.S. schools are used to suspend and expel children for minor, non-violent offenses. (The Advancement Project and the Civil Rights Project, 2000) • Black students are suspended and expelled higher rates than white students and are more frequently referred for subjective offenses such as ―disrespect.‖ (The Advancement Project and the Civil Rights Project, 2000) • Students are also subjected to abusive or humiliating comments by teachers. (Sullivan, 2007) • Students who are suspended fall behind academically and are rarely given alternative assignments or allowed to make up missed work. (The Advancement Project and the Civil Rights Project, 2000) Adaptable Teaching Methods • Students with disabilities were shortchanged 10.6 billion of what was promised in the first year of IDEA. (National Education Association, 2007 ) • The need for these funds is clear as students with disabilities are less likely to graduate from high school. (US Dept. of Education, 2005) • 12.5% of working age people with disabilities have a bachelor’s degree, compared to the national average of 30.3%. (Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Disability Demographics and Statistics, 2006) Adaptable Teaching Methods • 87% of homeless youth are enrolled in school and only 77% attend school regularly. (National Coalition for the Homeless, 2007) • Less than 16% of eligible pre-school aged homeless children are enrolled in preschool programs. (National Coalition for the Homeless, 2007) • Homeless children are also subject to frequent school transfers. (National Coalition for the Homeless, 2007) • It is estimated that this disruption causes a child to lose 3-6 months of education with each move. (National Coalition for the Homeless, 2007) Adaptable Teaching Methods • ¼ of all LEP students ages 16-24 who enroll in U.S. schools drop out. (de Velasco, 2001) • Linguistically isolated, ½ of LEP students attend schools where more than 1/3 of the students are LEP. (de Velasco, 2001) • Schools with a large percentage of LEP students have a harder time filling vacancies and rely more on uncertified and substitute teachers. (Cosentino de Cohen and Clewel, 2007) • Only 30% of teachers working with LEP students reported any special training. (de Velasco, 2001) Why Educations as a Human Right? • Emphasize the severity of the educational crisis in the U.S. by naming it as a human rights crisis • Provide a positive, alternate framework for education policy legitimated by worldwide recognition • Provide a unifying message based on the universality of rights and the right of communities to participate in decisions that effect their lives • Offer practical advocacy tools for raising awareness, analyzing policy, documenting violations and organizing Why Educations as a Human Right? The human rights standards for education can be useful for reframing how we view and practice educational policy in the U.S.: – Rights of every child, not just school or district performance – Quality and adaptability to diverse needs and backgrounds – Non-discrimination not only in access, but in the outcomes and impact of policies – Dignity in school environments – Aims of education toward full development – Right to participation, not just involvement – Government accountability and obligations International Legal Accountability • The U.S. has ratified two treaties that address the right to education and have committees that monitor U.S. compliance. • The Human Rights Committee (HRC) which monitors compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) • The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) which monitors compliance with International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination (ICERD) CERD Shadow Reporting • Countries that have ratified the treaty must submit a report every four years to CERD. The US government submitted its latest report in April 2007. • The Committee accepted Shadow Reports from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) about U.S. compliance with CERD until December 2007. • The Committee questioned representatives of the U.S. government at a session in March 2008 and issued concluding observations. Domestic Legal Accountability • Some local governments have adopted human rights treaties – San Francisco Ordinance on CEDAW. • Some federal and state Supreme Court rulings have referenced human rights treaties, often as the result of amicus briefs filed by human rights organizations. • Every state constitution recognizes the right to education, and a few recognize other rights, such as housing. Strategies are emerging for using international standards in state constitutional cases. Education as a Human Right The U.S. government must make a firmer commitment to ensuring that every woman, man, youth, and child has equal access to quality education and to other fundamental human rights dependent upon realization of the human right to education. Right to Education Resources • Achieve Inc.: www.achieve.org • American Association of University Women: www.aauw.org/ef • Association for Women in Mathematics: www.awm-math.org/ • Broad Foundation: www.broadfoundation.org • Center for Education Policy: www.cep-dc.org/ • Citizen’s Commission on Civil Rights: www.cccr.org/education/index.cfm • Communities for Quality Education: www.qualityednow.org/ • Education Trust: www2.edtrust.org/edtrust/ • MDRC: www.mdrc.org/ • National Archives for Educators and Students: www.archives.gov/education/ • National Association for Multicultural Education: www.nameorg.org/ • National Coalition for Equity in Education: http://ncee.education.ucsb.edu/aboutus.htm • National Education Association: www.nea.org/ • Parents for Public Schools: www.parents4publicschools.com • Quality Education for Minorities: www.qem.org/ • SoundOut: www.soundout.org/index.html Discover Human Rights! Download the Discover Human Rights toolkits on the rights to education, housing, food, and health, which include quizzes, fact sheets take action ideas, local organizations working on these rights, and lesson plans for teachers! Get Informed Get Involved Get Others Interested www.discoverhumanrights.org Bibliography American Council on Education. 2006. "Minorities in Higher Education Twenty-second Annual Status Report” in “Students of Color Make Dramatic Gains in College Enrollment but Still Trail Whites in the Rate at Which They Attend College" Accessed August, 2007 at http://www.acenet.edu/AM/Template.cfm?Section= Publications_and_ Products& CONTENTID =18725&TEMPLATE =/CM/HTMLDisplay.cfm. The Advancement Project and the Civil Rights Project. 2000. “Opportunities Suspended: The Devastating Consequences of Zero Tolerance and School Discipline Policies. “ Report from a National Summit on Zero Tolerance. Washington, DC, June 15-16, 2000. Accessed November 2007 at http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERIC WebPortal/custom/portlets/recordDetails/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=ED454314&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no& accno=ED454314. BEST (Building Educational Success Together). 2006. “Growth and Disparity: A Decade of U.S. Public School Construction.” Accessed November 200 at http://www.21csf.org/csf-home/publications/BEST-Growth-Disparity-2006.pdf. Biswas, Radha Roy. 2005 “Access to Community College for Undocumented Immigrants: A Guide for State Policymakers.” Achieving the Dream. Accessed February 2006 at http://www.jff/PDFDocuments/AccesstoCCUndoc.pdf. Blank, Helen. “Head start under assault: the flaws in the administration's misguided plan.” The American Prospect. November 1, 2004. Accessed November 2007 at http://goliath.ecnext.com/coms2/gi_0199-2376392/Head-start-under-assault-the.html. Children’s Defense Fund. 2004. “Educational Resource Disparities for Minority and Low-Income Children – Quick Facts.” January 2004. Children’s Defense Fund. 2005. The State of America’s Children. Cosentino de Cohen, Clemencia and Beatriz Chu Clewel. May 2007. “Putting English Language Learners on the Educational Map: The No Child Left Behind Act Implemented” Education in Focus, Urban Institute Policy Brief. The Education Policy Center. Darling-Hammond, Linda. 2007. “Evaluating No Child Left Behind.” The Nation 21 May 2007. Accessed June 2007 athttp://www.thenation.com/doc/20070521/darling-hammond. de Velasco, Fix and Ruiz. April 2001. “Challenges Facing High Immigrant-Serving Secondary Schools in the Context of Standards Based School Reform.” The Urban Institute. Education Trust. 2003. “African American Achievement in America.”Accessed November 2007 at http://www2.edtrust.org/NR/rdonlyres/9AB4AC88-7301- 43FF-81A3-EB94807B917F/0/AfAmer_ Achivement.pdf. Education Trust. 2006. “EdTrust Releases Funding Gaps 2006.” Press release. December 20, 2006. Accessed November 2007 at http://www2.edtrust.org/EdTrust/Press+Room/Funding+Gap+2006.htm. Bibliography FinAid. 2006 “Financial Aid and Scholarships for Undocumented Students.” FinAid Page. Accessed November 2007 at http://www.finaid.org/otheraid/undocumented.phtml. Learning First Alliance. 2005. “A Shared Responsibility: Staffing All High-Poverty, Low-Performing Schools with Effective Teachers and Administrators, A Framework for Action.” Accessed November 2007 at http://www.learningfirst.org/lfa- web/rp?pa=doc&docId=76. National Coalition for the Homeless. August 2007. Fact Sheet #10 “Education of Homeless Children and Youth.” Accessed November 2007 at http://nationalhomeless.org/publications/facts/education.html. NCES - Institute of Education Sciences National Center for Education Statistics. 2003. “Average TIMSS Mathematics Scores of 4th- and 8th-Graders, by Country: 2003.” Table. The Condition of Education. Accessed June 2007 at http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/2006/analysis/tables/tab05.asp. National Education Association. 2007. “Special Education and the Individuals with Disabilities Act.” Washington DC: National Education Association. Accessed June 2007 at http://www.nea.org/aboutnea/contact.html. National Science Board. 2006. “America’s Pressing Challenge – Building a Stronger Foundation.’ Accessed November 2007 at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsb0602/#compensation. Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Disability Demographics and Statistics. 2006. “Disability Status Report.” Cornell University. Southern Education Foundation. 2001. “Teacher Salaries in Southern Education States (K-12) 1990-2001).” Accessed November 2007 at http://www.sefatl.org/pdf/average_teacher_salary_brief.pdf. Sullivan, Liz. 2007. “Reframing School Discipline through Human Rights Standards” Children’s Rights. Vol. 9 Issue 2. Children’s Rights Litigation Committee, American Bar Association. U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Office of Special Education Programs, “25th Annual (2003) Report to Congress on the Implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act,” Vol. 1, Washington,D.C., 2005.
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