Plyler v. Doe
Right To A Public Education
The American people have always regarded education and the acquisition of knowledge as matters of utmost importance. Yet, the U.S. Constitution makes no mention of education and education has never been acknowledged as a protected fundamental right.
Under the Tenth Amendment, powers not expressly claimed for the federal government became reserved for the states including creation of educational systems. By the early 1900s all states had established free public schools. However, children who were different because of race, disability, culture, language, or gender have often been denied full and fair access to educational opportunities. The tide began to turn in the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education (1954). The Court ruled public education must be made equally available to all children. States uniformly considered education essential to the well-being of society and any child denied the opportunity of an education is denied the chance to succeed in life. In 1975 Congress passed the Education of All Handicapped Children Act providing a free appropriate education in the least restricted environment for all children with disabilities. During the same period, the Court required access to public education for children of aliens, ruled that schools must provide bilingual education, and extended new educational opportunities to girls.