NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ843405
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 26
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1056-7879
Decision Making by School Administrators in the United States and South Africa Using Two Different Standards: The Best Interest of the Child and the Right of Parents to Make Decisions for Their Children
Mawdsley, Ralph D.; Visser, P. J. Hans; Permuth, Steven B.
International Journal of Educational Reform, v15 n3 p344-369 Sum 2006
The opportunity for and expectation of parents' involvement in the education of their children is a staple of the American educational system. The absence of parent participation in their children's education has been decried by educators as a contributing factor to a range of problems in schools, from poor academic performance to disciplinary infractions. Although parent involvement is generally viewed as being synchronistic with and supportive of the education provided their children in schools, such involvement can constitute legal challenges to school decisions considered detrimental to their children's best interests. School officials need to have a working knowledge of the rights of children and parents, but in today's social environment with a high divorce rate, school officials need to know more than that; they must have confidence that a person purporting to act on behalf of a child not only is legally authorized to do so but also represents the best interest of the child. This article examines the different approaches taken in two countries, the United States and South Africa, with regard to the rights of students in schools. In the United States, although a tradition of using a best-interest standard exists for certain kinds of decisions involving children, the emphasis in school-related matters has been on rights of parents grounded in the U.S. Constitution and in federal and state statutes to make educational decisions for their children. On the other hand, the drafters of the 1996 constitution in South Africa have enshrined the best interest of the child by including a constitutional provision specifying that the best-interest standard shall be the one used in addressing all matters pertaining to the child. The authors discuss how these two approaches differ and how they have influenced decision making regarding students in schools. A short summary of the different approaches in the United States and South Africa is presented. (Contains 116 notes.)
Rowman & Littlefield Education. 4501 Forbes Boulevard Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706. Tel: 800-462-6420; Tel: 717-794-3800; Fax: 800-338-4550; Fax: 717-794-3803; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: South Africa; United States