ACLU: Students denied ‘right to learn to read’

Michigan and a small Detroit-area district are violating students’ “right to learn to read,”, charges an ACLU lawsuit. A 1993 state law says schools must provide “special assistance” to bring students to grade level if they’re not proficient in reading on fourth-grade and seventh-grade tests.In Highland Park, a three-school district,   three-quarters of students read below grade level — often many years below — but haven’t received extra help, the ACLU charged.

One student in the Highland Park district, a 14-year-old boy named Quentin, just finished seventh grade. Quentin, whose mother asked that his last name be withheld, reads at a first-grade level, according to an expert hired by the ACLU.

When asked to compose a letter to Snyder to describe his school, Quentin misspelled his own name, writing, “My name is Quemtin .?.?. and you can make the school gooder by geting people that will do the jod that is pay for get a football tame for the kinds mybe a baksball tamoe get a other jamtacher for the school get a lot of tacher.”

The district, which is running an $11 million deficit, was taken over by the state earlier this year. In June, “officials announced plans to turn the district’s three schools, with fewer than 1,000 students, over to a charter operator, starting this fall,” reports the Detroit News. That’s a very rapid turnaround.

The Highland Park district is among the lowest performing in the state: In 2011, 10 percent of third-graders in the district were proficient in math, and 22 percent were proficient in reading.