The compulsion is an aspect of public education. In some places home schooling may be a legal alternative to attending school. (Compulsory Education, 2009) Plato’s Republic popularized the notion of compulsory education in the Western acedemic deliberation.
The Aztec’s had one of the first compulsory education systems. They believed all male children should be equired to attend school until they were 16 years of age. Most countries now have compulsory education through out primary and often extending into secondary education.
Modern compulsory attendance laws were first enacted in Massachusetts in 1853 follwed by New York in 1854. By 1918, all states had compulsory attendance laws. Encyclopedia of Everyday Law) Compulsory education at the primary level was affirmed as a human right in the1948 Universal Decleration of Human Rights. (Compulsory Education, 2009) Every state requires children to be enrolled in school by a certain age. More than half of the states require that students be enrolled by the age of six, the rest require enrollment between the ages five to eight. Most states require children to stay in school until they are sixteen years of age, other states seventeen to eighteen years of age.
These age requirements are very controversial. Many early childhood experts argue that if policy makers establish early cut off dates for kindergarten, they should also establish aggressive school readiness programs to ensure students’ success. Others argue that because there has been an increased mphasis on early childhood development and school rediness, we should continue to challenge at a younger age. (Education Program, 2009) Today there are penalties for non-compliance with these requirements.
Truency is now a misdemeanor in almost every state with a penalty which includes a fine for the first offense.
The fines range from $20 to $100 and increase for additional offenses from $250 to $1000. Most states have the option of sentencing parents for as long as thirty day in Jail for not sending their children to school. Some states have alternatives such as counseling or community service. As a result of compulsory education we now have very large, publicly-funded schools that are linked to property taxes and zoning restrictions.
There are government mandated curriculim and standardized tests that are a benefit for teachers. However there are few incentives for students to master material and no options for those that drop out of the system.