First, educational inequality makes the U.S. non-compliant with international human rights conventions. A federal right to education is the only remedy.
Urchick 7 — Krysten Urchick, J.D. Candidate at Michigan State University College of Law, holds a B.A. in International Politics from Penn State University, 2007 (“U.S. Education Law: Is the Right to Education in the U.S. in compliance with International Human Rights Standards?,” Thesis Submitted To The Michigan State University College of Law, Spring, Available Online at http://digitalcommons.law.msu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1091&context=king, Accessed 07-13-2017, p. 24-27)
Besides these positive aspects, according to the international standards enumerated above, the U.S. appears to be in non-compliance in several important ways. The key reasons for this are discrimination and economic disparity.189 Underlying these issues is the U.S. attitude of exceptionalism.190 The idea that the U.S. does not have to abide by human rights laws because of its stature but can hypocritically tell other countries to abide by the rules.191 [end page 24] This exceptionalism facilitates the attitude that the U.S. system is better than the international standards and that compliance is unnecessary.192
Discrimination is of immediate and vital importance in the Children’s Convention and the ICESCR. In each convention, the eradication of discrimination cannot be achieved progressively but it must be done so immediately before compliance with the other provisions can be met.193 Since Brown, the U.S. has stated its commitment to equal opportunity education and has condemned de jure racial segregation in public schools. However, in practice, this segregation still exists because priority within public schools has shifted its concern from racial and ethnic discrimination to academic accomplishments.194 Therefore, in public schools more emphasis is placed on what children are learning and to what extent rather than if children are getting the same education, in terms of quality and quantum, throughout the U.S.195 In essence, pre-Brown claims of inadequate funding and inadequate quality of education based on racial and ethnic divides are resurfacing.196 Schools are still rampant with segregation and inequality.197 Inferior education continually afflicts minorities in the U.S., especially in the south.198 Historical remnants of the old south continually foster the ideals of inferiority and devaluation along racial lines.199 Many minorities are subjected to overcrowded classrooms, dilapidated schools, no textbooks or outdated books, overburdened teachers, unqualified teachers, and disinterested administrators.200 Access to educational opportunities becomes limited based on race.201 The federal government has noteffectively developed a national plan that would eradicate discrimination immediately nor make education to all more accessible as required under the Children’s Convention and the ICESCR.202 [end page 25]
In conjunction with racial/ethnic discrimination is economic disparity. Economic disparity adds to the hindrance of educational development in poverty stricken areas which are composed of mainly racial minorities. In many respects, economic inequality is the main reason for the vast differences in educational quality and access due to its nature of distribution.203 As mentioned above, education is relegated to the states. This makes funding for education discretionary and non-uniform.204 The funding structure of the education scheme in the U.S. is localized and varies immensely between urban, rural and suburban areas.205 The local school districts develop their own priorities and set their own property taxes that pay for education.206 Proportionally to local funding, state and federal governments appear to provide little money to school districts. Therefore, the largest educational budgets are found in rich school districts and the poorest districts have the smallest budgets.207 Budgets are allocated based on political decision-making and have a political agenda behind their allocation instead of being allocated based on equality and need.208 Since most economically depressed areas correlate to racial minorities, most racial minorities are deprived of equal and desegregated schools.209 This economic disparity continues to contribute to discrimination. Because of this distribution scheme, the responsibility to provide a right to education does not rest with the national government which is required under the conventions.210 It does not give the U.S. citizens the ability to have a cause of action under the federal law if their right to education is being hindered and doesn’t make the national government accountable for not providing uniform education. By continuing this type of economic distribution, the U.S. is not working to achieve uniformity in educational goals or the access to such education economically capable by all. Therefore, [end page 26] it cannot be in compliance with the international conventions. Since discrimination is so closely linked with economic inequality, it is unable to traverse this problem also.
Second, non-compliance on education undermines global U.S. human rights credibility and democracy promotion.
Holland 8 — Angela Avis Holland, J.D. Candidate at Vanderbilt University Law School, Recipient of the National Association of Women Lawyers Outstanding Law Student Award, 2008 (“Resolving the Dissonance of Rodriguez and the Right to Education: International Human Rights Instruments as a Source of Repose for the United States,” Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law (41 Vand. J. Transnat'l L. 229), January, Available Online to Subscribing Institutions via Lexis-Nexis)
C. Learning to Blend: Accountability and Cooperation for Effective Leadership Abroad
As noted previously, the overwhelming majority of international human rights instruments explicitly recognize the right to education. More significantly, the United States played a significant role in the development of human rights. For example, "the Universal Declaration of Human Rights emerged, with the unstinting support of the United States, as a pledge to remedy the previous absence of human rights safeguards - civil, political, economic, social and cultural." n276 It is difficult to reconcile the United States' direct involvement in drafting the UDHR with its subsequent refusal to ratify its offspring of treaties; specifically, the International Covenant [*266] of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This is particularly disturbing in light of the option to make reservations or to use other mechanisms that would give the United States a voice in determining the force of treaties and covenants within its borders.
Given the overwhelming recognition of the right to education in international treaties and human rights instruments, the United States' hesitancy to follow suit presents a distinct quandary. "This is a nation that has often been portrayed as the paragon of democracy and the leader in human rights reform. However, this enduring vision that other nations equate with America may slowly deteriorate as others see the United States fall behind on certain human rights' issues." n277 Recognizing the right to education by ratifying the ICESCR and the CRC would help avoid this consequence. Ratification would benefit children in the United States and throughout the world. n278 Moreover, if the right to education amounts to customary international law, the United States should not continue to refuse to recognize that right within its borders. n279
In light of its traditional role in the development of human rights, the United States should abandon its wavering stance on the right to education and join its sister-nations by openly recognizing the right. Proponents of transnationalist jurisprudence maintain that
the United States expresses its national sovereignty not by blocking out all foreign influence but by vigorous "participation in the various regimes that regulate and order the international system." The nationalists' suggestion that U.S. courts should disregard the rest of the civilized world by ignoring parallel foreign precedents only invites charges of parochialism, and undermines U.S. influence over the global development of human rights. n280
If the United States continues to ignore the needs of its own citizens, its image as a champion of human rights will fade away and become a mere facade. n281 As demonstrated extensively in Part II of this Note, education isa prime example of what the United States needs in order to promote democracy. It follows then, that the right to education should exist as "the centerpiece of American efforts to build democracies around the world." n282 To stand as a legitimate world leader and to promote and to protect freedom and democratic ideals in the distant lands of Latin America, Southeast Asia, and the Middle [*267] East, the United States must first recognize the right to education in its own backyard.
Third, human rights credibility and democracy promotion are vital to prevent rising global authoritarianism from destroying the liberal international order.
Basora and Yalowitz 17 — Adrian A. Basora, Director of the Eurasia Program and Project on Democratic Transitions at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, Member of the Council on Foreign Relations, former U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic, former Director for European Affairs at the White House National Security Council, holds a Master’s in Public Affairs from Princeton University, and Kenneth Yalowitz, Director of the Conflict Resolution Program at Georgetown University, Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center, Member of the Council on Foreign Relations, former U.S. Ambassador to Belarus and Georgia, former Director of the Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth College, 2017 (“Democracy Promotion Is Smart Security Policy,” The National Interest, February 16th, Available Online at http://nationalinterest.org/feature/democracy-promotion-smart-security-policy-19469?page=show, Accessed 07-13-2017)
From our being the “sole superpower” in the 1990s, U.S. global influence and effective power are now challenged by China and Russia, the weakening of the European Union and the sharp domestic divisions revealed by the U.S. presidential campaign. The United States and Europe are threatened by radical terrorists, challenged by territorially expansionist autocracies, and targeted by covert action, massive disinformation and propaganda offensives.
Russia and China, the world’s two principal autocratic powers, lead the way in consolidating their model domestically, but also in advocating internationally for an alternative authoritarian model based on strident nationalism, autocratic leadership, and repression of human rights and the rule of law. Russia, through its covert intervention in the U.S. election, military actions in Ukraine and support of right-wing populist forces in Europe, is working to undermine the system of liberal institutions, laws and behavioral norms that have bound Europe and the United States. Sadly, this alternative model is gaining ground in Europe and elsewhere. The list includes formerly promising new democracies such as Hungary, Turkey, Thailand, the Philippines—and now even Poland.
What is the connection between America’s security and the state of democracy in the world? Democratic countries rarely, if ever, go to war with each other or prey on their neighbors. Democratic systems and free markets support each other and sustain individual and group freedoms. Also, the rule of law, which subsumes all, is best guaranteed by democratic systems. Protection of the democratic order, now under challenge, must therefore be one of the priorities weighed in our strategic decisionmaking analysis and policy process. And democracy promotion via a revised, realistic and targeted approach must remain a fundamental national-security objective for the United States and its allies.
At a recent conference at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC on this subject, eleven experts of varying political and operational perspectives all concluded that the national-security interests of the United States and its allies not only permit, but require, America to support democracy abroad. Not to do so would ignore an existential threat to democracies, and to the international order that has allowed the United States to remain secure and prosper.
The new administration will need a democracy-promotion strategy. We suggest a triage approach, which will concentrate on three categories of countries where external support is most likely to succeed. Excluded from these efforts will be countries like Russia and Uzbekistan, where the effort would be futile and/or discredit democracy promotion by validating regime propaganda that equates these programs with aggressive intrusion into domestic affairs.
The most promising cases are found in countries where autocratic regimes have recently fallen or have agreed to a negotiated transition (e.g., Tunisia, Ukraine, Myanmar and Indonesia) or where semi-autocratic governments are visibly weak and opposed by broad-based indigenous movements (Venezuela).
The second group is made up of countries undergoing democratic regression resulting from the aggressive nature and partial success of the authoritarian counteroffensive. Existing democracies such as Poland and Hungary must be helped from falling backwards. Emerging democracies such as Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia need assistance in fending off foreign attempts to subvert them.
The third group is comprised of nondemocratic countries that fall in between regimes transitioning to democracy and consolidated dictatorships. This category includes autocratic countries such as Armenia, Thailand and Belarus, where the regimes have retained some democratic trappings such as controlled elections to maintain a degree of popular legitimacy. These openings may be used to lay the groundwork for democratic transition through carefully calibrated democracy promotion programs.
Understandably, much of the focus of the new U.S. administration will be on countering terrorist threats and dampening the appeal of radical ideology to susceptible young people. Yet, we must pay attention to prospects for democratic transition and meet the authoritarian counteroffensive. At the same time, Americans must reaffirm their own democratic commitments and standards as they manage their economic divisions and challenges. If democracy is to continue to flourish, nothing is more important than being true to American values and principles and protecting them globally.
Fourth, this is an existential threat — war, famine, poverty, and terrorism.
Kasparov 17 — Garry Kasparov, Chairman of the Human Rights Foundation, former World Chess Champion, 2017 (“Democracy and Human Rights: The Case for U.S. Leadership,” Testimony Before The Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women's Issues of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, February 16th, Available Online at https://www.foreign.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/021617_Kasparov_%20Testimony.pdf, Accessed 07-13-2017)
As one of the countless millions of people who were freed or protected from totalitarianism by the United States of America, it is easy for me to talk about the past. To talk about the belief of the American people and their leaders that this country was exceptional, and had special responsibilities to match its tremendous power. That a nation founded on freedom was bound to defend freedom everywhere. I could talk about the bipartisan legacy of this most American principle, from the Founding Fathers, to Democrats like Harry Truman, to Republicans like Ronald Reagan. I could talk about how the American people used to care deeply about human rights and dissidents in far-off places, and how this is what made America a beacon of hope, a shining city on a hill. America led by example and set a high standard, a standard that exposed the hypocrisy and cruelty of dictatorships around the world.
But there is no time for nostalgia. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the end of the Cold War, Americans, and America, have retreated from those principles, and the world has become much worse off as a result. American skepticism about America’s role in the world deepened in the long, painful wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and their aftermaths. Instead of applying the lessons learned about how to do better, lessons about faulty intelligence and working with native populations, the main outcome was to stop trying.
This result has been a tragedy for the billions of people still living under authoritarian regimes around the world, and it is based on faulty analysis. You can never guarantee a positive outcome— not in chess, not in war, and certainly not in politics. The best you can do is to do what you know is right and to try your best. I speak from experience when I say that the citizens of unfree states do not expect guarantees. They want a reason to hope and a fighting chance. People living under dictatorships want the opportunity for freedom, the opportunity to live in peace and to follow their dreams. From the Iraq War to the Arab Spring to the current battles for liberty from Venezuela to Eastern Ukraine, people are fighting for that opportunity, giving up their lives for freedom. The United States must not abandon them.
The United States and the rest of the free world has an unprecedented advantage in economic and military strength today. What is lacking is the will. The will to make the case to the American people, the will to take risks and invest in the long-term security of the country, and the world. This will require investments in aid, in education, in security that allow countries to attain the stability their people so badly need. Such investment is far more moral and far cheaper than the cycle of terror, war, refugees, and military intervention that results when America leaves a vacuum of power. The best way to help refugees is to prevent them from becoming refugees in the first place.
The Soviet Union was an existential threat, and this focused the attention of the world, and the American people. There existential threat today is not found on a map, but it is very real. The forces of the past are making steady progress against the modern world order. Terrorist movements in the Middle East, extremist parties across Europe, aparanoid tyrant in North Korea threatening nuclear blackmail, and, at the center of the web, an aggressive KGB dictator in Russia. They all want to turn the world back to a dark past because their survival is threatened by the values of the free world, epitomized by the United States. And they are thriving as the U.S. has retreated. The global freedom index has declined for ten consecutive years. No one like to talk about the United States as a global policeman, but this is what happens when there is no cop on the beat. American leadership begins at home, right here. America cannot lead the world on democracy and human rights if there is no unity on the meaning and importance of these things. Leadership is required to make that case clearly and powerfully. Right now, Americans are engaged in politics at a level not seen in decades. It is an opportunity for them to rediscover that making America great begins with believing America can be great.
The Cold War was won on American values that were shared by both parties and nearly every American. Institutions that were created by a Democrat, Truman, were triumphant forty years later thanks to the courage of a Republican, Reagan. This bipartisan consistency created the decades of strategic stability that is the great strength of democracies. Strong institutions that outlast politicians allow for long-range planning. In contrast, dictators can operate only tactically, not strategically, because they are not constrained by the balance of powers, but cannot afford to think beyond their own survival. This is why a dictator like Putin has an advantage in chaos, the ability to move quickly. This can only be met by strategy, by long-term goals that are based on shared values, not on polls and cable news.
The fear of making things worse has paralyzed the United States from trying to make things better. There will always be setbacks, but the United States cannot quit. The spread of democracy is the only proven remedy for nearly every crisis that plagues the world today. War, famine, poverty, terrorism–all are generated and exacerbated by authoritarian regimes. A policy of America First inevitably puts American security last.
American leadership is required because there is no one else, and because it is good for America. There is no weapon or wall that is more powerfulfor security than America being envied, imitated, and admired around the world. Admired not for being perfect, but for having the exceptional courage to always try to be better. Thank you.
Finally, only a federal right to education solves compliance — increasing the federal role is key.
Urchick 7 — Krysten Urchick, J.D. Candidate at Michigan State University College of Law, holds a B.A. in International Politics from Penn State University, 2007 (“U.S. Education Law: Is the Right to Education in the U.S. in compliance with International Human Rights Standards?,” Thesis Submitted To The Michigan State University College of Law, Spring, Available Online at http://digitalcommons.law.msu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1091&context=king, Accessed 07-13-2017, p. 28-31)
At this time, education is an option the state government need not provide. There are no mandatory funding amounts required by the federal or state governments. The federal government has not recognized a positive fundamental right to education. Discrimination, economic disparity, and educational inequality are still prominent in U.S. education. Politics govern who gets the money and who accomplishes the most learning. What could be done to change this?
Federal action needs to be taken. Some believe it would only require the recognition of a positive fundamental right to education under the Constitution while others believe that a constitutional amendment is necessary. Seemingly, according to international legal standards, any degree of recognition of a positive fundamental right would be a step in the right direction because of the benefits it would bring to education. Under the current regime, the federal government is seen as devoid of the power to act and complacent in the realm of education.217 States lack the financial capacity and political cohesion to completely fulfill their obligations to provide education equally to all of their citizens.218 If the federal government were to recognize a positive right to education it would be obligated to work with states to ensure education to all.219 “The federal government could bring. . . the financial resources, the visible leadership, the coordinating capacity, and the focus on national interest.”220 Developing a constitutional positive right to education would re-enforce its importance in our society and elevate its respect nationwide.221
In the marginal debates, some believe that only a constitutional amendment could achieve the goals of international human rights standards. This amendment would “place the [U.S.] [end page 28] in the company of nearly every industrialized nation.”222 It would give the U.S. the legitimacy to advocate freedom and democracy worldwide that the right to education coincides with.223 Such an amendment would force the Supreme Court to face the educational history of race and wealth distinctions.224 There would be no more so called passing the buck. The Supreme Court and the federal government could no longer hide behind the actions of the states. In reality, the U.S., if it were to ratify the Children’s Convention and ICESCR, it would be unable to hide behind the Constitution anyway. The conventions give ultimate responsibility to the State parties no matter if they delegate the power to other organizations either public or private to ensure the rights under it.225 In addition, the amendment would re-enforce the importance of education in our democratic society and elevate its respect.226 It would “undo the damage from the widespread denial of equal educational opportunity that has resulted from [Supreme Court] decisions.”227 In doing so, national attention will turn to the failing state of our educational system and work towards fixing it.228
Either way the U.S. decides to handle the right, it will vastly change the way the U.S. manages education. Since federalization of the right might be the only viable option to come into compliance with international human rights standards, the federal government would be faced with shifting financial resources and political backlash from more wealthy and supportive lobbying groups or states.229 The U.S. educational history is so grounded in localization and state control over education it would be difficult to create uniformity of the education process without vast shifts in power.
The most glaring problem will be the financial redistribution.230 As mentioned in the opening paragraph to this paper, the U.S. is the wealthiest country in the world. It has the [end page 29] resources to provide the federal positive right to education but it does not have the prioritization that such a task would require. Ratifying the conventions would take the U.S. out of the signatory bracket where respect for the object and purpose of the mission needs to be given and place it into the obligation bracket where it would have to fulfill the mandates in the conventions and the recommendations of the Committee. Without alleviating the highly visible racial discrimination and the apparent economic disparity, the U.S. would never pass muster under the Committee guidelines. Funding would need to be re-allocated so that more equal distribution occurred. It would be unacceptable to continue the current structure of local taxes because it would continually feed the inequality in the educational system.231 The Supreme Court and the federal government would have to find themselves taxing on a national level to fund the right to education. Congress could no longer condition funds and make allocations on a discretionary basis.232 The political branches would have to allocate funds in the budget for education and debates would shift regarding funding to how to make allocation equal among the districts based on an affirmative right to education.233
Affirmative steps to end discrimination would also need to be taken. This might even require the recognition by the Supreme Court of a suspect class under economic disparity which it would not be ready for. According to Kadrmas v. Dickinson Public Schools and Papasan v. Allain, the Supreme Court has refused to recognize a higher level of scrutiny than rational basis for claims of economic disparity.234 The Supreme Court declined to recognize wealth as a suspect class and therefore, most cases are upheld in light of apparent economic disparity.235 However, with a reorganization of the public funds and the guaranteed right to education, more people would be able to exercise and demand equality. This financial redistribution would eliminate some of the race and wealth issues prevalent in our [end page 30] educational system. Educational funding would be equal. In doing so, each child in U.S. public schools would be obtaining the same opportunities to acquire learning instead of the opportunities the local taxes could provide.