Klitzkie says fair, proper education is Constitutional right

by Marissa Eusebio, KUAM News
Thursday, August 07, 2003

Amidst last year's bleak conditions within the Department of Education, Senator Robert Klitzkie has taken action, drawing a connection between the Organic Act

and the civil rights of students to an adequate education.

Being denied of an adequate education, according to his theory, is therefore a violation of one's civil rights. Said the freshman senator, “There is an abundance of litigation in other states where children have brought similar type actions and have prevailed on it so although it's not new as a matter of law...it is new for Guam.”

He added, “I think it's really necessary because we're all aware that everyone talks about education is our top priority, so we're dependent upon the same people who say that to bring it about and, of course, when it doesn't happen it just doesn't happen. But here children have the ability to make it happen.” Klitkie says the responsibility of providing an adequate education is a responsibility of the whole government and not “just those poor souls who are involved in education right now”.

He says that from the Bureau of Budget Management and Research to the Department of Administration, there are others who play an important role in providing cash and other resources to DOE. Klitzkie explains that through the bill of rights within the Organic Act, children ages 6 to 16 must go to school; therefore they are entitled to a public education, which in essence is a Constitutional civil right.

Guam Education Policy Board members responded to the bill, saying if senator Klitzkie through public hearings and input can come up with a definitive list of what adequate education is, largely being in favor of it.

Said DOE Interim Superintendent Dr. Nerissa Bretania-Shafer, “Senator Klitzkie's proposed bill...is icing on the cake because the Organic Act is very clear on adequate education. The students, the parents, the teachers and in particular this board has the right to sue the Administration and the Legislature to ensure the resources are there. I feel more relieved. In the past the Board has been struggling to try to define the word adequate. We wanted to use the word minimum...and we've been around and again, but the government and children's rights have aligned to say what is adequate education.”

She describes his bill as bold and historic, saying that she hopes other leaders will support it, as an adequate education is an inherent right of students.



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