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Overturning WI v. Yoder: Making Education a Federal Right for All Children

Amish Heritage Foundation’s 2nd ANNUAL CONFERENCE

Columbia University – Saturday, November 16, 2019

501 Schermerhorn Hall (auditorium in the Schermerhorn building)
1180 Amsterdam Ave., New York, NY 10027

This event is not affiliated with, endorsed by, or sponsored by Columbia University.

About Overturning WI v. Yoder

This is our second annual conference. Check out our YouTube and iTunes podcast to see the talks from last year’s inaugural conference at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA.

“Most people think that children have a right to an adequate education under the US Constitution. But the federal courts have never held that there is such a right.” – Prof. Michael Rebell

Our second annual conference, Overturning Wisconsin v. Yoder: Making Education a Federal Right for All Children, will address why the 1972 Supreme Court case WI v. Yoder violates a child’s Constitutional right to a quality education, what the negative consequences of Yoder have been for the past ~50 years, and what needs to be done to overturn Yoder.

Within this context, speakers will demonstrate how the lack of an adequate education affects insular- and fundamentalist-raised individuals legally, psychologically, and economically.

We will also examine the difference between federal and state laws when it comes to education and how those laws impact democracy.

Lastly, we will offer specific calls to action toward a) making education an explicit federal right for all children, b) supporting marginalized children and adults who wish to further their education, and c) enforcing existing state education laws.

Our keynote speaker Attorney and Professor Michael Rebell (Teachers College and Columbia Law School) is one of the nation’s foremost authorities on the education-adequacy movement in the United States. Prof. Rebell is serving as the lead attorney for Rhode Island public school students and parents who have filed a federal lawsuit against the state for failing to prepare children for citizenship, arguing that that failing violates their rights under the United States Constitution.

Watch Video: Sample of Last Year’s Speakers

– Marci Hamilton (Founder + CEO, CHILD USA; Professor, University of Pennsylvania)

– Galen Guengerich (Member, Council on Foreign Relations; Senior Minister, All Souls Unitarian Church)

– Joel Engelman (PhD Candidate, Bowling Green State University; raised ultra-Orthodox Jewish)

– Sarah Haider (Co-Founder + Executive Director, Ex-Muslims of North America)

– Torah Bontrager (born and raised traditional Amish)

Watch Video: Message from Torah Bontrager

Torah shares why she’s so passionate about overturning Wisconsin v. Yoder.

Presentation/Speaking Topics

We’d like to hear from speakers/panelists who are actively working on enforcing a child’s right or raising awareness about the injustices (legally, psychologically, or economically) that a lack of a quality/adequate education causes.

We’re looking for speakers who are a) education advocates to talk about what they’re doing professionally to enforce a child’s right to a quality/adequate education, or b) health professionals to share the challenges they encounter serving an educationally deprived population.

We’re also looking for panelists to be part of a Personal Stories panel to share their educational experience (if you were discouraged or prohibited from going to high school or college, or faced challenges from having been home-schooled).


Explain why Yoder violates a child’s Constitutional right to a quality education

OR how Yoder enables child abuse––or violates the rights of children––in the name of religious freedom

OR how to enforce existing state education laws.


Address the health costs of escaping or leaving an insular religion or culture and solutions that health providers should offer that are specifically for trauma survivors.

This could include implementing trauma-informed training requirements in the educational, medical, and alternative health fields, SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners) training for registered nurses, and/or identifying and holding mandatory reporters accountable.


Address the financial or economic costs of A) escaping or leaving an insular religion or culture, B) growing up Native, or C) having been failed by the public, private, or home school system.

This category is driven by your personal story.

We want to hear what your personal challenges have been or are. Certain points to include are whether English is your second language, at which grade your education stopped, and if you are/were shunned or excommunicated.

The main point of your talk should focus on the financial or economic challenges of having been raised in a closed environment or not having had access to an adequate education.

Tickets & Special Rates

If you attended our conference last year, we have a special rate for you. Call/text 212.634.4255 with your name and registration email from last year and we’ll get you the rate info.

We can also offer a discount rate to groups. Contact us at 212.634.4255 for info.

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Early Bird tickets are on sale now. Prices go up on October 19.

Students and military vets are half price.

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