Svornost -- April 12, 1879A Review of the Compulsory School Attendance Law.
Enemies of the law for compulsory school attendance of children between the ages of 8 and 14 years, among whom is found the "Chicago Times" condemn this law and it's regulations. The objections they put forth can readily be dismissed by any reasonably sensible man, who is concerned about the welfare of the community as a whole, and the safe guarding of the rights of all those who in some instance may need the protection of law.
They claim the State has no right, much less any obligation, to take children from the control of the parents, to raise and educate them against their will other wise, unless the parents so wish it. Such disregard of rights originates in Prussia and is pure and simple despotism, where every inhabitant belongs to the State and the State must provide all his necessities and watch over him. The American principles are that the citizen belongs only to himself, that he is free, and that the State is maintained only for the purpose of assuring his freedom, not for the purpose of putting him under it's protection and regulating his life.2
The Prussian principle is that people are created for the State. The American principle is that the government is created for the people and that more government than is actually necessary to preserve the liberty of the citizenry is despotism. Therefore they claim that the only plane upon which compulsory attendance of schools can be placed is Despotism. These principles however, are undemocratic and contrary to out system of personal rights, which the government should guard against any curtailment.
They say this kind of law would be as unenforcible as a law prohibiting the drinking of alcoholic liquors, or any other law tampering with our private domestic affairs. It is indeed a strange exposition of the principles of liberty and duty.
The whole fault of this reasoning, knowingly committed, remains in the fact that they out children on the same level with the parents; they put them on the same plane as other mature citizens. They refuse to admit that children can not be compared with mature citizens, because in the first place they dont know and cannot know their rights for they would not understand them if they were being told and they are 3unable to guard their rights in any manner. Education cannot be forcibly administered in some coercive institution. That is true. We do not expect to force any one with a whip to become a Doctor or Professor if he has not the will nor ambition for it. However, everyone even the poorest and most indifferent can be persuaded while his mind is still pliant, to learn reading, writing and arithmetic thereby reducing the possibility of becoming an uneducated loafer when he has grown up, knowing nothing and seeking his livelihood in thievery.
According to their objections the State would not have the right, even, to force convicted criminals to learn anything and if they had no trade would be compelled to keep them in idleness. The final argument of the "Limes" that this system which would force children from the home to school like convicts under sentence, would lower the morale and standards of the schools so that none would care to brag that they went to school is sheer nonsense. Only when children begin to show more common sense, can there be any talk of voluntary school attendance. We are of the opinion that all of the objections put forth by the enemies of compulsory education are worthless and that Illinois should have a law compelling parents to send their children to schools.
I A 1 a, I B 3 b
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