Resolving the Dissonance of Rodriguez and the Right to Education: International Human Rights Instruments as a Source of Repose for the United States
Education exists as a fundamental right recognized by countries worldwide. Overwhelming support for the right to education is reflected in international human rights instruments, including the International Convention on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Notwithstanding a near global consensus on this issue, the United States has refused to recognize a federal right to education since the 1973 Supreme Court decision San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez. The ill-effects of Rodriguez linger today; glaring disparities continue to mar the educational prospects of women, minorities, and poor children in the United States. In this Note, the Author emphasizes the critical importance of a right to education for all people. The Author explains the purpose and function of education, presents a brief history of educational inequity in the United States, and summarizes the international human rights instruments that recognize the right to education. The Author also analyzes the Rodriguez decision and identifies the presence of a national consensus within the United States regarding the right to education. Ultimately, the Author argues that there is an international consensus recognizing the right to education. Accordingly, the Author suggests the following: (1) the United States should reconsider its treatment of the right to education by using the analytical framework employed by the Supreme Court in Roper v. Simmons; (2) recognition of a federal right to education falls directly in line with recent governmental efforts to “federalize” education; and (3) recognition of the right to education would help the United States maintain its status as a global leader.