Make Education a Federal Right for All Children

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Amish Heritage Foundation / Torah Bontrager
Amish Heritage Foundation / Torah B… signed this petition

No child in the United States has a right to an education, according to the federal courts. Please sign this petition to overturn the 1972 US Supreme Court case Wisconsin v. Yoder and make education an explicit right for all children.

I HAD TO LITERALLY ESCAPE AT AGE 15 IN ORDER TO GO TO SCHOOL

I was born and raised traditional Amish, in the United States, and escaped in the middle of the night at age 15 in order to go to high school. Eventually I graduated from Columbia University. I am now, through the Amish Heritage Foundation, attempting to overturn the US Supreme Court case WI v. Yoder, which allows the Amish Church to prevent its children from receiving an adequate education and from attending school beyond the Amish 8th grade.

Yoder affects everyone's child because the federal courts do not hold that any citizen at all has a right to an education. Our team of pro bono attorneys and I believe that that is unconstitutional. By overturning Yoder, we aim to also establish that every American has the explicit Constitutional right to an adequate or quality education. (The US is the only country in the world that has not ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which includes a quality education.)

Torah Bontrager, Founder and Executive Director of the Amish Heritage Foundation:
“I was born in a religious system that treats children as property. I had no rights, not even to choose my future as an adult. The US Supreme Court decided that the only future I deserved was one of being a housewife and a practicing Amish member. Yoder was ruled wrongly and it’s time to overturn it.”

AN INADEQUATE EDUCATION THREATENS DEMOCRACY AND A HEALTHY SOCIETY

Yoder especially impacts children in closed societies, such as Amish, ultra-Orthodox Jewish, fundamentalist Islam, Jehovah's Witness, fundamentalist Mormon, home-schooled evangelical Christian, etc. The negative consequences of an inadequate education are dire for those who depart their religion of origin and attempt to transition into mainstream society. The lack of a federally-mandated adequate/quality education for all students (public, private, parochial, home schools) threatens our society's health. Failing to prepare children for citizenship is a grave threat to America's ideals of democracy.

MAKE EDUCATION A FEDERAL RIGHT FOR ALL CHILDREN IN THE US

Take action. Sign this petition to demand that the United States Supreme Court justices overturn the exceptions that allow religions to prevent their children from receiving an adequate or quality education, one that is current with the times.

ABOUT The Amish Heritage Foundation:

Guided by enlightenment principles, the Amish Heritage Foundation (AHF) is, to our knowledge, the first organization in 300+ years of Amish history that advocates for the Amish—inside and outside the Church—without a religious price tag, promotes compassionate secular values, and empowers those who leave the Church. Overturning Wisconsin v. Yoder is AHF’s flagship project.

PRESS COVERAGE:

I wrote an op-ed about this critical issue that the New York Daily News published in October 2019. Click here to read the op-ed. And Amish Heritage Foundation's work to overturn Yoder was featured here.