The North Dakota Education Funding Debate: Ignorance of the Law is Not a Defense

I have to plead prior ignorance of the law, however that is not an excuse for not accepting what the law is.

Article VIII, Section 2 of the North Dakota State Constitution reads as follows:

The legislative assembly shall provide for a uniform system of free public schools throughout the state, beginning with the primary and extending through all grades up to and including schools of higher education, except that the legislative assembly may authorize tuition, fees and service charges to assist in the financing of public schools of higher education.

When parents “provide for” their children, they are not creating a framework for the child to go out to raise his or her own revenue to live on, it means that parents have the actual responsibility for financially caring for the child until he or she reaches the age of majority (18).

If the section read as follows, the intent of the law would be for the legislature to establish the framework it would read:

“The legislative assembly shall provide for a uniform system of free public schools throughout the state, beginning with the primary and extending through all grades up to and including schools of higher education, except that the legislative assembly may authorize tuition, fees and service charges to assist in the financing of public schools of higher education.”

As the passage currently reads, the legislature is required to “provide for” a uniform system of free public schools just as a parent must “provide for” his or her child.

The word “for” makes a huge difference in the meaning.

This portion of the constitution must be amended to prevent the state from dictating to the local school boards.

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