We’re not talking about removing children from their parents’ care and sending them to boarding schools or something. Mandatory public school attendance has been accepted as constitutional for a very long time in this country and no one says its an undue usurpation of parental rights. It’s also worth noting a central element here, which is that Connecticut, unlike most other states, has a constitutional obligation to provide adequate elementary and secondary education to its children.
Frankly, poor children bear the consequences of their parents’ circumstances SO much already, in so many aspects of their lives, that it seems almost heartless to say that in the one arena where the government has some leeway to improve their lives, they should still be condemned by birth to unequal options. I mean, is there a moral defense of the idea that poor children (or the children of people who vote imprudently) should be treated differently by the government than rich children or the children of thoughtful, well-informed voters? Even without delving into all the ways that it’s unfair to blame only voters in Philadelphia, Detroit, or Hartford for their cities’ difficulties, the idea of government treating children differently because of the accident of birth seems like an endorsement of hereditary class distinctions.