Over the next year, the Riverside-Brookfield High School board and teachers’ union will be negotiating a new contract. While the concerns of school employees do deserve serious attention, the pertinent issues are those of the parents of current students and to a lesser extent those of the community, most not using the school, who pay the property taxes to support that school.

To illustrate the point, some documents establishing the rights of parents to fully control the education of their children include:

In Meyer v. Nebraska in 1923, the U.S. Supreme Court upset a Nebraska law, making it a crime for any teacher to teach any subject in any language other than English (here German); the law interfered with parental freedom to educate children. The court stated “the legislature has attempted materially to interfere with the opportunities of pupils to acquire knowledge and with the power of parents to control the education of their young.”

In Pierce v. Society of Sisters in 1925 the Supreme Court set aside an Oregon law, the Compulsory Education Act of 1922, requiring attendance of children and youth at public (government) schools only. 

In its opinion, the court indicated the Constitution “excludes any general power of the state to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. The child is not the mere creature of the state.”

In Farrington v. Tokushige in 1927, the Supreme Court declared invalid a territorial law in Hawaii controlling church-affiliated schools where teaching was in Chinese, Japanese and Korean because “it would deprive parents of fair opportunity to procure for their children instruction which they think important”.

On Dec. 10, 1948, the United Nation’s General Assembly approved a “universal Declaration of Human Rights,” sheparded through that organization by Eleanor Roosevelt. The last sentence of Article 26 in that document reads “parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.”

We can find a multitude of similar comments in other documents in many places.

Parents’ rights are very strong, stronger than rights of a teachers’ union, stronger than decisions of any school board or any school administration and stronger than opinions of groups or individuals.

Parents have the responsibility for the welfare of their children and youth. I would urge the parents using RB in this community to fully exercise their parental rights in the education of their heritage. They should be civil and assertive and they will be heard.

James L. Keen