Why would anyone oppose that?
Because, the demagogues argued, if education was a constitutional right, some court (probably federal, they say with a sneer) might make Alabama actually live up to that commitment.
You might think this would present a dilemma for the Constitutional Revision Commission, which is under pressure from educators who want the right-to-education provision written into the Constitution, and also from those who don’t want that right included.
To solve the problem, the Constitutional Revision Commission pulled an editorial sleight-of-hand and came down firmly on both sides. It revised the educational article so that it says the same thing it said before the revision.
Here is how commissioners did it: First, the commission proposed that the article begin by stating that “the Legislature shall establish, organize and maintain a system of public schools throughout the state for the benefit of children thereof.”
Well done. That is what the state should do.
But then the commission added, “provided that nothing in this Section shall provide a judicial right or obligation.”
In other words, here is what we should do, but if we don’t, you can’t make us.
Educators and their supporters are gearing up to fight this. As Sally Howell, executive director of the Alabama School Board Association, told reporters, “In the 21st century, do we want to be to my knowledge the only state constitution that doesn’t acknowledge a right to education?”
A good question. However, even if there are other states that deny that children have a right to an education, this page also asks, Does Alabama want to be counted among them?
If this revision stands, Alabama will be.