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Rights: Children, Parents, and Community

Theorists and advocates frequently use claims about rights to advance the moral and legal entitlements of individuals and groups. Because of the rhetorical force of rights claims—the philosopher Ronald Dworkin called them “political trumps”—they are especially prevalent but also controversial in the education realm. Education rights assert individuals’ entitlements to particular resources (e.g., to adequate or equal school funding or to qualified teachers), and they also advance claims about educational governance (i.e., who should decide how children are educated or determine education policy more generally). Given their focus on distributive justice and educational authority, rights claims can bring three key groups of educational stakeholders into tension: (1) children, (2) parents, and (3) the state. This entry first provides a brief overview of rights theory. ...

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