Back-to-School: Parental Rights “Substantially Diminished”

September means back to school, and for millions of American parents that means a significant reduction in your parental rights.

  • In 1995 the First Circuit Court of Appeals held that “once parents make the choice as to which school their children will attend, their fundamental right to control the education of their children is, at the least, substantially diminished. Brown v. Hot, Sexy, and Safer, 68 F.3d 525 (1995) [emphasis added]
  • In 2005, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals went even further. In its Fields v. Palmdale decision the court notoriously “affirm[ed] that the Meyer-Pierce right [that is, your fundamental parental right] does not extend beyond the threshold of the school door. 427 F.3d 1197 (2005) [emphasis added]The decision met with such fierce public outcry that the U.S. Congress overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan resolution calling for its reversal. As a result, the court agreed to rehear the case en banc, and edited out the offending language. The result, however, remained the same: parents “have no constitutional right to prevent a public school from providing its students with whatever information it wishes to provide, sexual or otherwise, when and as the school determines that it is appropriate to do so.” (ibid.)

[If you haven’t yet, check out and share these stories of parental rights and education.]

The idea that you lose the right to oversee your child’s upbringing the moment they walk onto campus is one that doesn’t sit well with most parents. But it is arguably the law in the United States. Especially for those parents who feel they have no choice but public education—and no choice within public education except the school closest to their home—this is a bitter pill to swallow; it means they have no control at all.

This is one reason the proposed Parental Rights Amendment would declare in the text of the Constitution that “[t]he liberty of parents to direct the upbringing, education, and care of their children is a fundamental right.” This will not allow a parent to dictate what is taught to everyone else’s child, but it will put parents on much stronger footing in protecting their own child and guiding his or her education and development.

There are many wonderful teachers in our nation’s schools—including our public schools. But most of those exceptional teachers will tell you the same thing I will: that generally it is the parents who know their child the best, and not the school.

The Parental Rights Amendment is a major step to making sure loving parents stay in the driver’s seat of their child’s education.

Thank you for standing with us as we continue to promote this vital effort in Congress. And thank you to those of you able to donate to this important cause.


Michael Ramey
Director of Communications & Research

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