The Instigator
Pro (for)
1 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
6 Points

Authoritarianism in American Public Schools and Why it's Unconstitutional

Do you like this debate?NoYes+0
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/20/2016 Category: Education
Updated: 9 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 386 times Debate No: 85275
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (1)




Public schools are a function of the state. The state has made them mandatory for all children. It is my position that this means they are bound by the same rules as any government agency, set in the Constitution.

Public schools mainly violate the Constitution in these ways:

1. Search me or my belongings at will (4th amendment)
At my school, your pockets, backpack, phone, and car can all be searched without a warrant OR legal probable cause. The school does not need to suspect you are breaking laws, just SCHOOL RULES. The myriad of banned items at school makes it far too easy to 'justify' a search.

2. Enforce a complex and overly limiting dress code (1st amendment)
The point is to ensure that no one is distracting everyone else with their attire. This is a noble goal but is almost universally poorly implemented. Simple self expression is criminalized in schools, banning piercings, hats, sweatshirts, hairstyles, hair colors, facial hair, a large portion of accessories, and occasionally more. As long as a student is not creating a clear and physical distraction, it is not the government's place to dress them.

3. Limit speech based on content alone (1st amendment)
This means that even if speech was expressed at an appropriate time AND was not a threat, the school has the power to silence you. As an example, imagine a health class debating the dangers of drug use, which of course is supposed to be a one-sided farce. The one pothead kid that every school has is using his five minutes to thoroughly refute his opponents claims that Drug A is very bad for you. The teacher stops him and may even discipline him for promoting drug use. (Actually a true story from two years ago in my health class)

4. Confiscate my personal property with zero liability (4th amendment)
Any teacher anywhere in the building can confiscate any piece of my property at any time for any reason. A small clause in our student handbook nullifies the actual rules by allowing teachers to confiscate at their discretion. They are not obligated to give it back until a 24 hour day has passed. If my property is damaged or stolen, the school doesn't have to pay for damages.

5. Detain me indefinitely against my will (5th amendment)
During any type of emergency or emergency drill, a school can detain students and deny parents who are trying to leave with their children. These emergencies could include anything from a lockdown to inclement weather. The school is allowed to use force to detain students in these scenarios. This is specific and rare, but nonetheless shows how much power schools are given.

It is also my position that the safety of students is NOT an acceptable reason to violate the Constitution. My opponent should also take note of the fact that the Constitution applies to all American citizens, meaning age is irrelevant to the Bill of Rights.


I will be taking the dreaded con side for this sure to be entertaining debate. The pro never listed any stipulations and round rules to follow, so I will feel free to rebuttal anything he may have said in the first round (in which he had a few good strong arguments made) and will be doing so this round as well as providing the counter arguments against his contentions.

1. Search me or my belongings at will (4th amendment)

The pros argument is that school staff, police on duty present are not justified going through your stuff.
I feel that they are justified and it's completely their right to do searches.

A1. First off, it's their house, so their rules. When you go to someones house, you must obey any house rules they may have, and with that, it implies you give up some of your rights to a certain extent. If the pro is going to argue this, then he might as well just say inmates in prison should not be searched and have their cells raided randomly in the search of contraband, and deadly weapons. This is almost no different of an argument he presented except the play fields have changed from a school to a prison. In short, the school is not a playhouse and neither is a prison. In school, you are there to learn and learning should be the most important part of any school, so they have designed this system in place. On the topic of being raided and such, not all schools are as tight with security and from my own personal experience, I never had my belongings raided or taken away and speaking of security, this leads me to my next argument.

A2. Security has changed, there is no ifs or buts about this fact. life in itself is ever changing, rules get tweaked and updated according to that change, and even the constiution changes and cannot be the same, but going back to security, it's a fact that today in this age and time, there is a lot of school shootings than ever before, the US in itself is getting more violent day by day. This is a fact and does not require me to list a source because it's common knowledge through watching the news, personal experience that the world just isn't as safe as it was years ago. Crime is continiously on the rise, so it's only logical to tighten security to better protect the public, and in this case students.
Schools are implementing more metal detectors, more camera's, even more drug searches through lockers and parking lots. If you're seriously going to argue that them going through your backpack when you walk in is not justified, then you need to argue that cops raiding inmates cells is not jusitifed and while we're at it, argue that raiding personal belongings at an airport is not jusitifed. I personally if I had children would love for them to go to a school that is more safe, tight with security than to have to worry about my children coming home and some student going crazy with a gun. Also, tightening security, taking away all this junk they carry will make them focus more on their assignments because it's a fact that there is a ton of children with their phones texting while in class. That does NOT need to be going on, but there is a good majority with their phones out instead of paying attention.
With that said, I could go on and on with counter arguments to the pro's first contention, but however, I need to save characters and will rebuttal and argue his other contentions and will probably come back to this topic in round 2.
So for now, this ends my argument which is that the school staff, on duty police are justified giving that it is their house, and given that security measures need to be in check for the crazy world we live in today.

2. Enforce a complex and overly limiting dress code (1st amendment)

A1. Admittedly the dress code can be a tad bit severe in some schools, and human errors do occur when judging ones apparel, but it should never come down to students being sent home but it does and the reason it does so is because the students who are sent home and being put on the news for about what they wore and got suspended for are usually the students testing the school staff, wanting attention, trying to get near the redline which just wastes time and causes confusion and makes dress codes even worse. Students shouldn't be seeking their 15 minutes of fame on TV, they should be dressing according to how the school may want them, and going to school to learn. My personal experience is that we didn't have a severe dress code at school, but one should use common sense what should be allowable and what not, and it seems to me common sense has lost its way in this country.

A2. While argument 1 is not a strong argument, it's a argument with facts and reasoning, and I will be happily to argue against the notion that children should go naked in school if desired. Now as for argument 2 I want to make, this argument will tie back to the "it's their house, their rules" argument. When you go to work whether it be at Walmart, Mcdonalds, and manufacturing places, you are required to wear by the dress code. This implies for schools.
The pro needs to also argue that it is wrong to force you to dress a certain way at these workplaces if he wants to make his argument on dressing a certain way at schools hold any grounds with me as it should you reading this. From what I know, schools typically will implement new changes due to something that may have happened in the past. This is something natural and happens everywhere. For example, I worked at Nestle and someone bumped their head and we implemented that you must wear hard hats. This is no different from a school making changes due to something that may have happened like a girl wearing a mini skirt where you could see her genital area and her behind as she went on throughout her day in school. No one needs to see that, and common sense again is just not found, especially in children/teenagers.
In short, a school is a workplace, again not a playground for you to go and dress however you want without regard to others and do as you please. You are there to LEARN. You are not there to attract every boy in the school like a dog in heat and cause distraction. If you do not want a dress code, then be home schooled or use common sense because there are many clothes in todays age that can be bought and look just as cool as you ever could imagine without breaking the rules.

3. Limit speech based on content alone (1st amendment)

R1. Yes. Speech should be limited. Not just in school, but in all places. You should not be cursing like a sailor in a school, and you should not be insulting someone whether it is in school or out of school.
However, the topic is on content regarding the restrictions of ones speech. It's important to know ones speech should not be controversial when discussing topics. That is why your speech may get cut off. Talking about the positive effects weed has is controversial cause it's a drug that also has negative effects and cons. Also the risk of teens trying the said drug in question can be high if the speech is convincing enough.

4. Confiscate my personal property with zero liability (4th amendment)
I will not debate this contention much as it ties mainly back to the pros first contention and goes hand and hand, but again, their house, their rules. It is a fact that when you give the kid back his toy and cell phone, he just goes right back to playing with the said toy, or cell phone, and you most certainly do not need to have them out in CLASS. So it's ok for a kid just to load up on action figures and have a complete war zone on his desk while in class? Is that really beneficial to him, the students and to the teacher trying to teach? No. The teacher has the right to remove the distraction from class. This has been going on forever now, it's nothing new, and it's completely justified.
5. Detain me indefinitely against my will (5th amendment)
I'll admit this is the pros strongest argument/contention in this debate. After school detention, and other things are a no brainer and are acceptable in my eyes and are justified. I'm more so curious if the pro is against after school detention? I know this is not his argument he presented, but more so of a question from me to him.
A1.The pros argument is basically other things could detain a person and force them to stay in school like a tornado for example. Yes, I'd argue that you should listen to your instructor. (I will not argue a school shooting sceneario because I would get out of the school and ignore the instructor) but some things you do need to listen to your instructor on.
A tornado is different. The pro listed this as an argument, well, he listed weather climate, but I will just argue a tornado coming at the school for the sake of this contention. I feel that if you let it be a free for all and let the students do what they want, more could get hurt, would cause more panic, and you should stay indoors and most schools provide good structure to prevent serious damage and can be your best survival option around. Tornado's move pretty fast, so the time is of the essence. In fact, this happened in real to me as we had to stay over an hour or two cause of a tornado in the town that touched down. The buses did not run until late of course, and you don't want to let any kids out because you will be held responsible (and yes responsible if the tornado destroyed the school).
So this concludes my arguments and counter arguments for round 1. I will be interested in hearing what the pro has to say for round 2.
It's worth noting that the schools I went to were more free than what my opponents were. If you are unhappy with the school, then feel free to go to a other school, or be homeschooled, or request a petition to make a change about something you do not like.
Schools may be a system, but they are workplaces as well with rules that must be checked.
Debate Round No. 1


ChewyJiggles forfeited this round.


It looks like the pro who created this debate has decided to concede so therefore please vote Con.

The pro never made an attempt for this round, he never defended his arguments, and I made some pretty strong arguments.

It's worth noting that while we have freedom, freedom in itself is limited. You can't just go out and shoot someone, you can't just go and rape someone. So while there is a 1st amendment we put restrictions on it, not only we, but the workplaces we go to put the restrictions on it, and the others.

While I don't have to continue on, I do want to make a other argument against pro's argument 5 about being detained against ones will. As you have read, I mentioned and gave a example about a tornado which in my opinion was a pretty good argument, and also example, but I furthermore want to make a other argument that involves the mentally handicapped who are unable to think for themselves. Should we really let them free when we have these bad weather climates that effect us? No. We should hold them until their parents come to pick them up. The pro mentioned that even the parents can be detained during these climates, and that is true as I mentioned in the tornado scenario which happened, but I think for human concern, there must be a priority and care given, even if the other person thinks its fine. It's like a dude getting drunk and swearing he is fine to drive. No he isn't. He should not drive. You can make many small little arguments about the pros contention, but I'll leave it at that.

Vote con.
Debate Round No. 2


My deepest apologies to my opponent, the snowstorm knocked my Internet out and left me unable to respond. I concede the debate and ask voters to vote for my opponent.


Thank you for letting us know.

This would have been a cool debate, hopefully we can continue this another time with better conditions.

As of right now, my arguments stand, and I think my plan was to go more over the constitution itself in round 2 after demonstrating in round 1 that workplaces, and public places have to set some house rules down and yadda yadda.

Vote con.

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by ViceRegent 9 months ago
The problem is institutional with government schools violating the 1st Amendment by imposing an ideology on students (and parents).
Posted by snkcake666 9 months ago
Thank God, someone who finally addresses this. Kudos to you, and best of luck on your debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by LostintheEcho1498 9 months ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:16 
Reasons for voting decision: Concession by Pro, but for good reasons. Debate to Con, brownie points for Pro.