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Right to Education in California 

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Many documents apply to the education of children in California. When a case comes before the courts, the California State Constitution, prior Supreme Court decisions and laws passed by the legislature all may bear on the case. Below are selections from documents applicable to education in California:

United States Constitution, 14th Amendment (ratified 1868):

"Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. So State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

California State Constitution (1849)

Article 9. Education

"Section 3. The Legislature shall provide for a system of common schools, by which a school shall be kept up and supported in each district at least three months in every year, and any school neglecting to keep and support such a school, may be deprived of its proportion of the interest of the public fund during such neglect." Source: Library of Congress American Memory site on Early California.

California State Constitution (1879)
Article 9. Education

"Section 1. A general diffusion of knowledge and intelligence being essential to the preservation of the rights and liberties of the people, The legislature should encourage by all suitable means the promotion of intellectual, scientific, moral and agricultural improvement.

Section 5. The legislature shall provide for a system of common schools, by which a free school shall be kept up and supported in each district at least six months in every year, after the first year in which a school has been established.

Section 6. The public school system shall include day and evening elementary schools and such day and evening secondary schools, technical schools, kindergarten schools and normal schools or teachers' colleges, as may be established by the legislature, or by municipal or district authority."

Plessy v. Ferguson, Decision of the U. S. Supreme Court. (1896)

The Supreme Court ruled that "separate but equal" facilities on railroads were constitutional. This ruling was later spread to hotels, theaters and schools. The majority opinion stated:

"The object of the [fourteenth] amendment was undoubtedly to enforce the absolute equality of the two races before the law, but, in the nature of things, it could not have been intended to abolish distinctions based upon color, or to enforce social, as distinguish d from political, equality, or a commingling of the two races upon terms unsatisfactory to either. Laws permitting, and even requiring, their separation, in places where they are liable to be brought into contact, do not necessarily imply the inferiority of either race to the other, and have been generally, if not universally, recognized as within the competency of the state legislatures in the exercise of their police power."

California Law The Code summarizes the California Statutes as enacted by both houses of the Legislature and signed by the Governor or becomes law without the Governor's signature, then chaptered by the Secretary of State. As new laws are passed, the code is revised. The School Law of California, passed April 4, 1870
California Statutes, 1869-1970, p. 838
Sec. 53. Every school, unless otherwise provided by special law, shall be open for the admission of all white children between five and twenty-one years of age, residing in that district . . . .

Sec. 56. The education of children of African descent, and Indian children, shall be provided for in separate schools. Upon the written application of at least ten such children to any Board of Trustees or Board of Education, a separate school shall be established of such children ... .

Education Code, Section 1667 (as put into the Code in 1880)

"Every school, unless otherwise provided by law, must be open for the admission of all children between six and twenty-one years of age residing in the district; and the board of trustees or city board of education, have power to admit adults and children not residing in the district, whenever good reasons exist therefore. Trustees shall have the power to exclude children of filthy or vicious habits, or children suffering from contagious or infectious diseases."

Education Code, Section 1662. (As put into the Code in 1921)

"Second - The day elementary schools of each school district of California shall be open for the admission of all children between six and twenty-one years of age residing within the boundaries of the district, including Indian children whose education may not otherwise have been provided for by the federal government.

Third - The governing body of the school district shall have power to exclude children of filthy or vicious habits, or children suffering from contagious or infectious diseases, and also to establish separate schools for Indian children and for children of Chinese, Japanese or Mongolian parentage. When such separate schools are established Indian children of children of Chinese, Japanese or Mongolian parentage must not be admitted into any other school.

It is further provided that in school districts in California where the United States government has established and Indian school, the Indian children of the district, or districts, eligible for attendance upon such Indian school, may not be admitted to the district school."



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