Most Parents Are Not Idiots Or Negligent

By: Joel Turtel

So Why Do We Need Compulsory-Attendance Laws?

Why do we need compulsory-attendance laws? Why compel parents to send their children to public schools? Wouldn’t parents naturally educate their children without compulsion? Human nature and history prove this to be the case. All over the world, parents push to educate their children, with or without public schools.

In Japan, school is compulsory only up to the equivalent of junior high school (ninth-grade level). High schools in Japan, like colleges in America, are privately owned and charge tuition. Middle-school students compete fiercely for a place in high schools even though their parents must pay to get them in. Yet most Japanese parents push their kids to apply for high school and scrape up the money for tuition, without the Japanese government’s pressuring them to do so.

In America, millions of parents voluntarily pay thousands of dollars a year in tuition to send their young children to private kindergartens, and their older children to a private college. Obviously, most parents think that educating their children is very important. So why do we need compulsory attendance laws for first through twelfth-grade education?

Compulsory-attendance laws imply that government has to force parents to educate their children. Common sense and history prove this notion false. Up to the 1850s, before we had public schools in America, the literacy rate was over 90 percent. Yet most parents taught their children to read at home. They did not need town officials to force them to educate their children. All over the world, most parents’ want to give their children a good education so they can have a secure future.

Compulsory-attendance laws also imply that some parents are too ignorant or indifferent to their children’s welfare to educate their kids. If this was not the case, then why compel parents at all? Local governments therefore believe they have to force these “bad” parents to deposit their kids in public schools, for the alleged good of the children.

In effect, local governments and public-school authorities don’t trust average parents to have the decency and common sense to educate their kids, unless public-school authorities force them to. That notion is as absurd as claiming that parents would not feed their children unless government authorities forced them to.

There is a saying that if you want to know the real purpose of a law or social system, follow the money. Who benefits the most from our public schools? Certainly not our kids. I submit that the real purpose of compulsory-attendance laws is to enforce a public-school system that benefits public-school employees.

Article Copyrighted © 2005 by Joel Turtel.

Joel Turtel is the author of “Public Schools, Public Menace: How Public Schools Lie To Parents and Betray Our Children.” Website:, Email:, Phone: 718-447-7348.

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