Article 26

(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit. (2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace. (3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Education has always been important to me, even when I did not appreciate school (which was pretty much 7th -11th grade.) Despite the fact (or perhaps because of it) that my dad, by his own admission, barely graduated high school and my mom had to leave in the 10th grade to give birth to Yours Truly, they always put a high value on learning. Though we were relatively poor, by American standards, we always had a library, stocked from garage sales, library sales and spending a healthy portion of our disposable income in bookstores. We didn’t always have the coolest toys, but we had the best books.

We learned about marine biology from reading Jacques Cousteau, about the vastness of the universe by reading Carl Sagan’s Cosmos (as well as watching the series) and the formation of our system of government by reading the Federalist Papers. Broadening our minds was as much fun as it was useful and that is a gift I don’t think I could ever fully repay.

I was also fortunate to have some amazing teachers that encouraged my thirst for knowledge. Ms. Riley bought me my first microscope. Ms. Perlo let me have extra time on the computer, so long as I was using it to learn programming, as well as just generally boosting my identity as an eager learner. Mr. Verzella showed me the real power of words with his eloquence and his love of language.

It makes me sad to think that so many in the world do not have this absolutely essential resource available. It makes me even sadder that so many in the West take it for granted and even dislike it. Some deliberately undermine public education here, sometimes for economic reasons, sometimes for supposedly moral reasons.

That latter group is why I have to disagree, in part, with clause 3. Too many would take their children right out of school because it teaches things they disagree with. If you have an alternate vision of the world you want to teach your kids, by all means, do so, but there are certain fundamentals that they need to be able to grasp if they are going to be fully functional citizens. I don’t care whether the kitchen aid in a hospital I am staying at believes in evolution, I do care whether or not they can read which foods I am allergic to.

Of course there are some in power that would prefer a less educated populace. They view such a group as easier to manipulate, and there is truth to that. This of course means that an educated, charismatic opposition can also manipulate them. An educated people are a stable people, all other things being equal. That, and as I said, knowing is just fun.

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