Education- Students’ Rights

Education is defined as the learning of knowledge, information, and skills during the course of a person's life. Teachers will teach their students mathematics, English, history, science, reading, writing and physical education. Teachers of a higher level of education, such as a professor at a university or college, will typically teach only one subject such as physics or philosophy. Education is considered a basic human right, not only in the United States but also throughout the world. Education involves three main aspects; instruction, teaching, and training.

There are a variety of different forms of education including:

  • Primary education
  • Secondary education
  • Higher education
  • Adult education
  • Alternative education
  • Indigenous education
  • Emotional or human education

Anyone born in the United States is allowed to obtain an education at the primary and secondary level without question. They are also allowed to receive an education at the college or university level without question as well. The majority of public schools do not require the payment of tuition because local township taxes cover the public school's yearly budgets. Private schools and universities charge tuitions because they are not funded by state and local taxes.

Student Rights

Student rights includes are rights that protect students that attend schools, universities, and other educational institutions. The rights of students vary from each level of education and from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

Higher education rights afforded to students include:

  • The right to form groups of their choosing to express their views and receive funding for them
  • The right to speak freely, assemble, and demonstrate
  • The right to due process and an impartial hearing in any disciplinary matter
  • The right to participate in the governance of the institution
  • The right to make rules and regulations and have primary responsibility for the governance of student conduct

The United States Constitution protects the rights of all citizens of the United States, regardless of race, religion, color or any other factor. However, children have a much more limited set of rights, which have been determined by the Supreme Court over the past few decades. In particular, primary and secondary school students do not have the same rights as adults when they enter the doors of their schoolhouses. The school is expected to act as a parent or guardian on behalf of its children.

The following landmark cases have defined the rights of students within the walls of their schools.

  • Tinker v. Des Moines (1969) said that students could not be stripped of their freedom of expression upon entering the school. Students were allowed to wear black arm bands to protest the Vietnam War.
  • Board v. Barnette (1943) was the first case that said that students could not be forced to salute the flag.
  • Bethel v. Fraser (1986) maintained that students could have the right to free speech, but could not be disruptive.
  • Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier (1988) is the standing precedent for school newspapers. It allows school officials prior review.

The aforementioned cases set a series of precedents, regarding the governance and rights of school age children. Students of universities and colleges are subject to a different set of rules, even if the institution to which they belong is publicly owned. This is because college students are legally considered adults, and they carry all of the rights and responsibilities that come with adulthood.

Rights of College and University Students

Because the students of institutions for higher learning are considered adults, and the school does not have to play the role of the parent in their education, they have a more liberal set of rights and freedoms.

The following are a list of rights that may not necessarily be granted to children in elementary, middle or high school:

  • College students have the right to express their own views, and receive funding for their clubs and activities
  • They have the right to free speech, assembly and they may demonstrate
  • At a university, students have the right to due process and a hearing in any disciplinary affair
  • They also can participate in the governance of their university and have responsibility over student conduct

These rights are protected by the United States Constitution and are unalienable by any school authority. If a student's rights are withheld at an institution of education, they can request a hearing in front of a board or a tribunal at that school to discuss the case. If the tribunal does not work then hiring an education lawyer is the next step. An education lawyer can help with the filing of forms and completing the process in a precise and quick manner.

Student Unions

Student unions, student governments, student associations or a student senate are all names that refer to the same thing; a group of students that represent the entire student body on campus and on a local or national level. Student unions help to protect the student body while at colleges and universities. Student unions have started to pop up in high schools across the country as well. Student unions are a great way for students to ready themselves for management positions outside of college and the start of a possible career in politics. Most student unions have their own building, separate from every other building on the campus. Student unions help to protect students on campus when it comes to the rights they are afforded when they enroll in school.

Rights of Primary and Secondary School Students

Aside from the aforementioned restrictions that have to do with a student's right to free speech and expression, many legal concerns surround the issue of search and seizure in the school building. Again, these are illegal on college campuses, but they can be performed on the lockers, vehicles and persons of school age children if authorities have probable cause to believe that the students have contraband items. The searches must be reasonable and not extremely invasive. They should only be done to protect the safety of other children in the school, such as in a drug bust or a search for weapons.

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