An adequate education is a human right and should be a U.S. federal Constitutional right
Amish Children Are Forbidden By United States Federal Law From Attending School Beyond the Amish 8th Grade.
We help Amish American refugees become documented and attain a higher education. This includes filling in the gap between Amish 8th grade and high school, so they can go to college. If they’re young enough, we help them go to alternative high schools first.
We also raise awareness about why Wisconsin v. Yoder needs to be overturned.
Why This Is Important
In 1972, the United States Supreme Court decided in Wisconsin v. Yoder that Amish children do not have the right to any future other than one inside the Amish Church.
An Amish child is prohibited by law from becoming anything but a “housewife” or a “farmer”.
Because of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Wisconsin v. Yoder, any parent/guardian (not just Amish) can refuse to let their child go to school beyond the 8th grade or learn about a subject by saying it’s against their religious beliefs.
How This Affects You
The federal courts of the United States do not acknowledge that anyone has a right to any education.
This means that neither you nor your loved ones have the right to learn how to read, write, and speak.
We argue that that is unconstitutional and are working to overturn Wisconsin v. Yoder and make education an explicit federal right for you and all children.
How Educational Deprivation Affects Amish Children
(and children from other insular or fundamentalist communities)
We are an underserved minority group in the USA and Canada with no scientific and technological skills, no emotional and social intelligence, and no higher education. At best, we’ve received a rudimentary Amish 8th grade-only education in private Amish-only schools with Amish teachers who are neither certified nor educated beyond the Amish 8th grade.
We speak basic to intermediate level English as a second language. Our native tongue is Amish. The average Amish adult is at a 5th grade literacy level.
And we do not have the freedom to choose whether to remain in the Church. Exiting comes at the traumatic price of shunning and excommunication for life. We are taught that we will go to hell for eternity if we do not remain a practicing Amish. The Church forbids the option to remain in the community as a secular or nonpracticing member.
Besides enabling child and sexual abuse, this educational deprivation prevents most Amish from transitioning into mainstream society. Those who find the wherewithal to take the leap face untold challenges in their journey for freedom. Many do not make it and are forced to return to the Church.
Individuals from other insular and fundamentalist groups that deprive children of an adequate education face similar trauma and hardships. Those groups include ultra-Orthodox Jewish, fundamentalist Mormon, fundamentalist Muslim, conservative Mennonite and other Anabaptist, Jehovah’s Witness, and conservative evangelical Christian.
Watch TED-style talk
Wisconsin v. Yoder Explained
Watch Prof. Marci Hamilton’s TED-style talk on what Wisconsin v. Yoder means for our democracy and your individual rights.
Read all about
Wisconsin v. Yoder Court document
“The Amish Heritage Foundation has provided me with life-changing emotional support, influence and guidance. I don’t feel so alone anymore.”
“When I escaped, I didn’t even know if I had a birth certificate. The Amish Heritage Foundation helped me get documented right away, so I could get a job and be recognized as an American citizen.”
“If it weren’t for The Amish Heritage Foundation and their dedicated staff, we would never have been able to stand up to the abuse inside our church. We would have just given up.”