Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Crawford, Jon G.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations


Education history; Law; Education policy; Education and state--United States; Education--Political aspects--United States; School attendance--Law and legislation--United States


The notion of compelling formal education has been in existence since the 1600's. Subtle differences can be extrapolated from the compulsory school attendance statutes enacted during the past four centuries; however, the core requirements have remained the same. Despite the fact the United States Supreme Court has ruled education is not a fundamental right. Every state has laws mandating school attendance for minor children. For centuries, judicial efforts have wrestled with crafting effective interventions and punishments for students and parents failing to follow these laws. Sadly, truancy continues to be a plague in 21st century education. There continues to be financial ramifications for families, districts, and communities for non-attendance. The unfortunate repetitions of history and the continuation of the negative consequences for truant minors, begs the educational, legislative, and judicial systems to reevaluate, and possibly reframe the questions surrounding compulsory school attendance.;This study historically examines legislative enactments and judicial decisions that have affected compulsory school attendance and compulsory education through four distinct eras, utilizing Frances Fowler's theoretical perspectives as a lens. Each of Fowler's eras carried its own social, economic, political, and cultural values. Reflections on the trends and values of historical legal decisions related to compulsory school attendance are explored as both a predictor and the basis for recommendations. This study frames meaningful questions that may help open a long overdue compulsory school attendance dialogue.;Data was collected through historical and contemporary reviews of both case law and law review articles relevant to compulsory school attendance. This study focused on federal and Illinois case law related to compulsory school attendance. The majority of cases presented are from United States Supreme Court, United States Federal Circuit Courts of Appeal, United States Federal District Courts, Illinois Supreme Court, and Illinois lower state courts.


Advisors: Jon Crawford; Christine Kiracofe.||Committee members: Kelly Summers.


99 pages




Northern Illinois University

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