Nebraska State Constitution Article VII-1

Article VII-1


Legislature; free instruction in common schools; provide.

The Legislature shall provide for the free instruction in the common schools of this state of all persons between the ages of five and twenty-one years. The Legislature may provide for the education of other persons in educational institutions owned and controlled by the state or a political subdivision thereof.


  • Neb. Const. art. VIII, sec. 1 (1875);
  • Transferred by Constitutional Convention, 1919-1920, art. VII, sec. 1;
  • Amended 1940, Laws 1939, c. 109, sec. 1, p. 477;
  • Amended 1952, Laws 1951, c. 164, sec. 2(3), p. 646;
  • Amended 1954, Laws 1953, c. 174, sec. 1, p. 554;
  • Amended 1970, Laws 1969, c. 423, sec. 1, p. 1439;
  • Amended 1972, Laws 1972, LB 1023, sec. 1.


1. Free instruction

2. Miscellaneous

1. Free instruction

In the context of student discipline cases, no fundamental right to education exists in Nebraska. The term "free instruction" is construed in right to education cases as pertinent to the issue of the constitutionality of school financing, including collection of fees, tuition, and taxes. Kolesnick v. Omaha Pub. Sch. Dist., 251 Neb. 575, 558 N.W.2d 807 (1997).

Parents of school children occupying federal farmstead project are residents of public school district in which such lands are situated, and such children are entitled to common school privileges without payment of tuition. Tagge v. Gulzow, 132 Neb. 276, 271 N.W. 803 (1937).

Establishment of municipal university in Omaha was a matter of state concern in accord with duty to provide free instruction in public schools. Carlberg v. Metcalfe, 120 Neb. 481, 234 N.W. 87 (1930).

High school district that receives pupils from another district cannot collect additional tuition fee beyond that fixed by the Legislature. State ex rel. Baldwin v. Dorsey, 108 Neb. 134, 187 N.W. 879 (1922).

Child living with married sister, resident of district, is entitled to attend school without paying tuition. Martins v. School Dist. No. 30 of Cuming County, 101 Neb. 258, 162 N.W. 631 (1917).

Mandamus will not lie to compel school district officers to set aside entire revenue for payment of registered warrants, if effect would be to deprive children of free education. State ex rel. Collins v. Gardner, 79 Neb. 101, 112 N.W. 373 (1907).

Statutes with reference to education should be liberally and broadly construed to provide for free instruction. McNish v. State ex rel. Dimick, 74 Neb. 261, 104 N.W. 186 (1905).

The method and means to be adopted to furnish free instruction is left to the Legislature. Affholder v. State ex rel. McMullen, 51 Neb. 91, 70 N.W. 544 (1897).

Under requirement for free school instruction, public lands were designed to provide funds therefor. It is the duty of Legislature, by proper law, to encourage sale of public lands at best possible price. Washington County v. Fletcher, 12 Neb. 356, 11 N.W. 460 (1882).

2. Miscellaneous

The appropriate level of scrutiny in constitutional challenges to school funding decisions is whether the state action is rationally related to a legitimate government purpose. Citizens for Eq. Ed. v. Lyons-Decatur Sch. Dist., 274 Neb. 278, 739 N.W.2d 742 (2007).

This provision of the constitution does not confer a fundamental right to equal and adequate funding of schools. Citizens for Eq. Ed. v. Lyons-Decatur Sch. Dist., 274 Neb. 278, 739 N.W.2d 742 (2007).

Statutory provision authorizing transfer of land from a nonaccredited to an accredited high school district was constitutional. De Jonge v. School Dist. of Bloomington, 179 Neb. 539, 139 N.W.2d 296 (1966).

Matters pertaining to creation and dissolution of school districts are vested in the Legislature. Farrell v. School Dist. No. 54 of Lincoln County, 164 Neb. 853, 84 N.W.2d 126 (1957).

Denial of approval of high school, based on invalid regulation, violated this section. School Dist. No. 39 of Washington County v. Decker, 159 Neb. 693, 68 N.W.2d 354 (1955).

Delegation of legislative powers to a county committee to fix boundaries of school district was constitutional. Nickel v. School Board of Axtell, 157 Neb. 813, 61 N.W.2d 566 (1953).

In enacting legislation under this section, Legislature is restrained by other limitations of Constitution. Peterson v. Hancock, 155 Neb. 801, 54 N.W.2d 85 (1952).

This provision is not self-executing. State ex rel. Shineman v. Board of Education of School Dist. No. 33, 152 Neb. 644, 42 N.W.2d 168 (1950).

Expulsion of pupil for contumacious behavior is not violative of this section. Smith v. Johnson, 105 Neb. 61, 178 N.W. 835 (1920).

Teaching of foreign language is not repugnant to theory of "common school," and statute providing for such teaching upon petition of parents is not unconstitutional. State ex rel. Thayer v. School Dist. of Nebraska City, 99 Neb. 338, 156 N.W. 641 (1916).