The USA and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10th, 1948. The Declaration includes 30 articles spelling out individual “basic rights and fundamental freedoms,” declaring these rights to be inalienable and applicable to all human beings.

Article 26 deals with education and reads as follows: (Spray paint added by your author.)

The saying that parents have a right to choose “the kind of education that shall be given to their children” is a broad phrase. It is more expansive than just the school their children will attend.

The United States, of course, has done little to allow parents to choose the school their child will attend.

Do you know which Americans have for decades been increasing their control over the kind of education their children receive? Not only the which schools their children attend, but also how much access their children will have to a rich array of extracurricular learning opportunities?

You guessed it: well-to-do Americans.

Well-to-do Americans not only choose between schools for their children; they hire tutors and pay out of their pockets for a wide variety of enrichment activities. Low-income families have less choice over schools and fewer funds to engage in enrichment.

Publicly funded choice over “the kind of education” is confined to a small number of education savings account programs if we mean to include methods in the term “kind of education.”

Leaving America’s vast K-12 spending as a sunk cost in a dysfunctional and inequitable system would prohibit giving parents choice over “the kind of education.” Better late than never for the United States to live up to the declaration.