Why Is School Required by Law
A state`s power to require parents to send their children to school has not always been supported or recognized in the United States. The parental education of children stems from the English laws of the sixteenth century, which require vocational training for poor young people. In collaboration with hospices and workhouses, schools were organized to educate the children of residents. In the early 1900s, reformers also succeeded in requiring all teachers (at least in public schools) to attend state-approved teacher training programs. As historian Diane Ravitch describes, “teacher certification was ultimately identified with the completion of teacher education programs, rather than obtaining local certificates or passing subject exams.” These legal requirements have cultural implications. Colleges and jobs that do not require a college diploma expect or require high school transcripts as part of the application process. And culturally, we see school as a normal part of childhood – any parent traveling with their child during a school day can expect to hear, “Shouldn`t she be in school?” Parents, not the state, would decide how and where their children would be educated. New opportunities for pedagogical innovation would emerge as the shadow of compulsory education faded. Freedom of education begins when state coercion ends. Compulsory schooling based on the Prussian model gradually spread to other countries. It was quickly adopted by the governments of Denmark-Norway and Sweden, as well as Finland, Estonia and Latvia within the Russian Empire and later in England and Wales and France.  These tires are for those lucky enough to get out of compulsory mass school.
Despite ongoing efforts to expand educational choice mechanisms such as Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), vouchers and tax credit scholarship programs, most parents have no choice but to send their child to an assigned district school. Even if their child is relentlessly bullied, even if they feel that the school environment is not strict enough, even if they personally disagree with some of the ideological foundations of the district, these parents are required by law to send their child to the designated public school. Early school attendance laws provided for a minimum period during which children could attend school before they could be legally employed, usually three months, but enforcement was lax. The South lagged behind, and many Southern laws left application and practice to localities. The first laws were vague and parents who needed children at home to earn a living resisted. Homeschooling and unschooling are on the rise, but even then, many states (such as Louisiana, Maine, and New York) are setting strict guidelines on how homeschooling can or cannot be conducted, including the subjects that must be taught and annual student tests that are similar to tests in public schools. While compulsory education is generally regarded as important and useful, in today`s world, compulsory education is seen by some as outdated and counterproductive and has been the subject of sharp criticism on several occasions.  Critics of compulsory schooling argue that such education violates children`s freedom; is a method of political control;  is ineffective in teaching children how to use the “real world” outside of school;  and can have negative effects on children, leading to higher rates of apathy, bullying, stress and depression.  Massachusetts became the first United States to pass a compulsory education law in 1852, after passing a similar law in 1647 while it was still a British colony.
The 1852 Act required every town and municipality to provide elementary schools focused on basic grammar and arithmetic. Parents who refused to send their children to school were fined and (in some cases) deprived of their parental rights, and their children were apprenticed to others. Although compulsory schooling is still the norm, several exceptions have been made for certain groups of people who oppose the laws. For example, the U.S. Supreme Court (Wisconsin v. Yoder) ruled in 1972 that Amish parents were exempt from these laws beginning in grade eight. In addition, states generally grant exemptions to those who homeschool their children as long as they meet the standards required by state-approved public and private schools. The first step in restoring educational freedom and giving parents choices and opportunities for their children is to abolish compulsory education laws that allow state control of education. States could still require cities to provide public schools to those they want, but the power to force parents to send their children there would disappear. Instead, a decentralized network of educational opportunities (including, but not limited to, different types of schools) would develop, led by visionary parents, educators, and entrepreneurs.
School has nothing to do with freedom. First, there are state laws that require you to go to school or learn the very specific things you would learn in school. This form of education is not a choice: it is required by law. Each state is constitutionally bound to provide a school system in which children can receive an education. State legislatures exercise power over schools in any manner consistent with the state constitution. Many state legislators delegate power over the school system to a state board of education. School truancy laws, derived from a state`s compulsory education laws, give the state full power to prosecute parents whose children may have unequal attendance records. A feature article in HuffPost recently revealed the harmful effects these laws can have on families and children when parents are removed from their homes handcuffed and sent to jail. All parents in Judea since ancient times were obliged to teach their children at least informally. Over the centuries, as towns and villages grew, a class of teachers called rabbis developed.
According to the Talmud (treatise Bava Bathra 21a), which praises the sage Joshua ben Gamla with the institution of formal Jewish education in the 1st century AD, Ben Gamla established schools in every city and made formal education compulsory at the age of 6 to 8.  Virginia law recognizes homeschooling by parents or tutoring provided certain conditions are met and provisions are in place for some form of homeschooling in the majority of all fifty states. Other exceptions and participation deadlines are provided for children with medical, physical or emotional problems. Exceptions to compulsory attendance may be made if children of a certain age do not have public transport at certain distances from their homes. Information provided by the State Education Commission in 2000 shows that in several states students as young as sixteen years of age may be allowed to withdraw from the regular classroom if they are employed full-time or enrolled in alternative education programmes, with the consent of parents and school principals. The HuffPost investigation found that Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris was responsible for much of the increased assault on parents regarding truancy. As California`s attorney general, Harris was a crusader against truancy and was instrumental in stepping up criminal prosecutions against parents whose children missed too much school. According to HuffPost: It`s all so familiar. Harris, who billed herself as a “progressive prosecutor” for California, probably believed she was doing the right thing for the children and saving them from their supposedly neglected parents.
Horace Mann, the “father of American public education,” credited with introducing the nation`s first compulsory education law in Massachusetts in 1852, considered himself progressive. At the time, Massachusetts was experiencing a massive wave of immigration that some lawmakers said threatened the current social fabric. Mississippi was the last state to pass a law requiring school attendance in 1917. Yet enforcement of these state laws was largely ineffective until states began to recognize the value of skilled labor. Proponents of public schools in the early 19th century, such as Horace Mann and Henry Barnard, sought to create tax-funded public school systems in states that, because they did not charge tuition, would outperform private schools. Eventually, reformers lobbied for laws making schooling compulsory in all states (Massachusetts was the first in 1851 and Alabama was the last in 1918).