Do Students Have The Right To Learn While In School? A Detroit Judge Says, Maybe Not…So, Why Should They Be Required To Attend?

A judge in Detroit has ruled that students do not have the right to learn to read

Students in Detroit are suing the state because they were not taught to read. A seven person class-action lawsuit was filed against the state of Michigan on the grounds that education is a basic right, and that these students had been deprived that right. 

Keep in mind that all 50 state constitutions mandate public education systems as compulsory, meaning that it is a state mandated law that all children MUST enroll in school or face penalties or jail.

In this case, Gary B. v. Snyder, was filed in federal court (based on the perceived constitutional violation) and is now headed to the federal appeals court in Cincinnati.

A Los Angeles legal firm, Public Counsel, has taken the case pro bono and is contending that the seven students who attended five of Detroit’s lowest performing schools are receiving an education that is so inferior and underfunded that it is just as if they are not attending school at all. The five schools are said to be infested with bugs and vermin, filled with outdated textbooks, and basic literacy is not even taught in the schools.

Thus, the lawsuit states that the State of Michigan, which oversees the public school system in Detroit is responsible for failing to educate the students in their schools specifically, by denying access to literacy to students, of which nearly 97% of students of color. Seems legit, right?

Last week, the case was dismissed by district court judge Stephen J. Murphy who couldn’t determine whether or not the kids had a right to learn to read. What? He literally kicked the can down to the road by saying that perhaps the Supreme Court should weigh in.

The case will see its way through the courts, but I am wondering why parents are required to have their kids in a mandated educated system under threat of penalty or prison if the point isn’t even to teach them anything such as basic reading!

The reason this case is important is because it was filed in federal court and as such will have implications nationally. So, in 2018, the question remains, is education equity supported by the constitution?

What do you think?

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Leticia Chavez-Garcia

Leticia Chavez-Garcia

Leticia Chavez-Garcia is a Mother, Grandmother, former Middle School Teacher, former Member of a School Board of Education and an Education Advocate for hundreds of parents and students in the Inland Empire. Having become a mother at 15, Leticia knows what it’s like to be a single mother trying to navigate the education system. Leticia received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Political Science and Public Administration from California Baptist University and a Masters’ Degree in Education Technology from Cal State Fullerton in her 30’s. Leticia has used her knowledge and experience to help hundreds of families as an Education Advocate in the Inland Empire and currently works as an Education Specialist.

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