Literacy is not a fundamental right, argues the State of Michigan. The state is fighting a lawsuit charging Detroit schools are so bad they deny children a chance to learn to read, reports the Detroit Free Press.
“As important as literacy may be, the United States Supreme Court has unambiguously rejected the claim that public education is a fundamental right under the Constitution,” the state lawyers argue. “Literacy is a component or particular outcome of education, not a right granted to individuals by the Constitution.”
The lawsuit filed Sept. 13 on behalf of seven Detroit schoolchildren claims the State of Michigan has failed to provide them with basic literacy, a foundation of all education and a precursor to active citizenship. It asks the federal courts to order remedies, including “evidence-based literacy reforms,” a systemic approach to instruction and intervention as well as fixes to crumbling Detroit schools.
The suit argues that literacy “is a right because without it, citizens can’t access other constitutionally protected activities such as casting an informed vote, or serving on juries or in the military,” reports the Free Press.
Detroit, which has been run by state-appointed managers in recent years, is one of the lowest performing urban districts in the nation. Overall, fewer than 5 percent of students test as proficient.
Nearly half of Detroit adults are functionally illiterate, according to a 2011 report.
The Detroit Free Press has launched a series looking for solutions to the crime, abuse, poverty, neglect and school failure that affects the city’s children.