How About Students’ Rights?

I am just now coming back down to earth after the Supreme Court’s monumental decision this past Friday. After so many years of struggle, debate, tension, and anticipation, the court finally granted gay people the right to marry. Whether you live in rural Mississippi or urban New York, your state is now bound by federal law to grant same-sex couples a marriage license.

For years my partner and I had been wondering where to move. Once the state of AZ allowed gay marriage, we were able to take a sigh of relief and settle in for a little longer. Now the question of where to move with regards to where we are allowed to be married is no longer relevant.

But we still talk about moving on a fairly regular basis. Living in the state that is at rock bottom of the educational spending ranks and being the parents of a 3-year old puts us in a tricky position. As an educator of over 20 years, I know how schools struggle. I’m well-aware that teachers are leaving the state in droves. I’ve been on the hiring team for weeks now, searching for a solid math teacher. And I attend conferences and workshops, year after year, with exhausted demoralized educators who are expected to do way too much with far too little.

The 10th amendment states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” This is what the court was pushing against when it made its landmark decision last week.

Since there is no constitutional right to a quality and equitable education, schooling has been left almost entirely up to states. Now that may work well in a state that values public education, has a relatively young population, and high property taxes, but it doesn’t work well when the inverse is true.

I applaud the Supreme Court for making its decision last Friday. And I wonder if the same spirit that resulted in marriage equality for all Americans could ever result in a quality and equitable education for all American children.

 

Eve Rifkin

Eve Rifkin

Tucson, Arizona

I have been an educator for over 20 years. As a founding co-director of City High School, I have held a variety of leadership and teaching roles, including academic director, humanities teacher, and principal. I am currently the Director of College Access and support students as they envision their lives after high school.

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