Children Denied Education in the United States of America

May 05, 2016

By Heather Stewart

Do you know there are children in the United States of America being denied an education? The Associated Press reports that in at least 35 districts in 14 states hundreds of unaccompanied minors from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras have been turned away from schools, discouraged from enrolling, or pushed into programs that cannot meet their needs.

Not only is this abhorrent, it is illegal. In 1982, the Supreme Court held in Plyer v. Doe that denying primary and secondary education to undocumented children violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Education is fundamental to the fabric of society and key to ensuring people are equipped to lead economically productive lives to the benefit of everyone.

Whatever your position on immigration reform, the law regarding the education of children is settled: we do it. It doesn’t matter if the children arrive in our communities by themselves or with their parents. It doesn’t matter if there is an ongoing debate as to whether the children are refugees or fleeing poverty. Denying a child a proper education is a lifelong punishment, for both the person, the community and the world. It is appalling that schools in the United States of America are denying an education to children.

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