Opinion: Require kids to stay in school? Not so fast….

Anytime you hear government officials mandating new behaviors to a broad swath of the population, that mandate is likely to run afoul of the First Amendment, says Sam Chaltain, a D.C.-based educator and strategist, for the Washington Post. And so it is with President Obama’s announcement in his 2012 State of the Union address on Tuesday night that all states should “require that all students stay in high school until they graduate or turn 18.”

Although Mr. Obama made other pronouncements about education –see Dana Goldstein’s good summary analysis in The Nation — the stay-in-school mandate was the one that caught my ear, since enforcing it would run afoul of both the United States Supreme Court and our historic commitment to religious liberty. The case that established the precedent originated in Wisconsin, where a group of Amish families were convicted of violating the state’s school attendance law by withdrawing their children after they graduated from the eighth grade (the law required kids to stay in school until they turned 16)…

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