Governor Susana Martinez and Secretary-designate of Education Hanna Skandera launched an attack on parent’s rights to make critical decisions about their child’s education. No matter how they try to spin it, mandatory retention means a state institution, not the parents, decides if a child repeats 3rd grade or moves on to 4th.
Martinez and Skandera took an unyielding stance on a compromise to mandatory retention that doomed all remediation bills in the recent legislative session. They refuse to accept New Mexico state laws protecting and ensuring the rights of parents in deciding what is best for their own children. These rights are also ensured on a national level through decisions by the US Supreme Court.
In Meyer v. Nebraska the US Supreme Court ruled, that there is a “natural duty of the parent to give his children education suitable to their station in life.” And that the state is prevented “materially to interfere with the power of parents to control the education of their own.”
In Pierce v. Society of Sisters the court ruled that “the child is not a mere creature of the state; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right and the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.”
Under Griswold v. Connecticut the court ruled that parental rights in education are guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.
Now that their efforts failed in the legislature, Martinez and Skandera may attempt another end run around the law to enforce mandatory retention. Whatever they try to do, the US Supreme Court has made it clear that preventing every parent from having the option to decide what is best for their own child’s education is unconstitutional.