Student Bill of Rights Legislation Introduced

September 6, 2002

Citing the critical need for every child in America to have access to educational resources, Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Children and Families, and Representative Chaka Fattah (D- PA 2nd) today introduced legislation to address inadequacies and inequities in educational opportunities available to millions of students.

“The quality of a child’s education shouldn’t be determined by the digits of their zip code,” said Dodd. “This measure corrects that inequity by ensuring that each and every child’s school has the resources to provide them with a decent education, and in turn, an equal opportunity for a successful future.”

“After almost 50 years of lawsuits, presidential commissions, research studies, and countless news stories, poor children in every state are still the least likely to get a quality education,” said Fattah. “The Student Bill of Rights asserts that this national scandal to deprive poor children of a decent education must end today.”

Nearly 50 years after the United States Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education struck down “separate and unequal” schooling, millions of children today still do not have access to the educational resources that are critical to student achievement. The U.S., which spends less than 2 percent of its federal budget on elementary and secondary education, ranks last among developed countries in the difference in the quality of schools available to wealthy and low-income children.

The Student Bill of Rights Act of 2002 would hold states accountable for providing resources including highly qualified teachers and guidance counselors, challenging curricula, up-to-date textbooks and materials, and small classes to all students who rely on public schools for their education. Current law requires that schools within the same district provide comparable educational services; this bill would extend that basic protection to the state level by requiring comparability across school districts. Finally, The Student Bill of Rights Act would help ensure that states comply with state or federal court orders concerning the fairness of their public school systems.