Detroit students are fighting a state government that claims ‘literacy is not a right’
This country has a long history of denying the basic, unabridged, and inalienable rights to all people despite the promises made in the Bill of Rights. This truth is evidenced by the fact that students, right now in 2016, are fighting in Michigan courts for better quality education.
Seven Detroit children, as represented by a Los Angeles law firm, filed a lawsuit in September citing “decades of state disinvestment and deliberate indifference to Detroit’s schools have denied them access to literacy,” according to WJBK-Fox2 News.
In a motion filed last week in a US District Court in Detroit, Timothy J. Haynes, an assistant attorney general, suggested that “claims laid out by plaintiffs — including deplorable building conditions, lack of books, classrooms without teachers, insufficient desks, buildings plagued by vermin, unsafe facilities and extreme temperatures — go far beyond mere access to education.” Therefore, Snyder’s legal team is hoping to get the case thrown out because – they believe – “literacy is not a right in the state of Michigan.”
Lawyers say this is an “attempt to destroy the American tradition of democratic control of schools,”reports Detroit News.
However, the students involved in the case have expressed concerns with the conditions of the schools, noting that these kinds of issues make it difficult to learn. These issues have been well-documented for months if not years prior to this lawsuit was filed. But, it seems, the current lawsuit is catching steam.
“Instead of providing students with a meaningful education and literacy, the state simply provides buildings — many in serious disrepair — in which students pass days and then years with no opportunity to learn to read, write or comprehend,” states the 133-page complaint by the Los Angeles-based firm Public Counsel.
Governor Snyder talked with press about the lawsuit earlier this week.
“I think everybody wants to work together to improve educational outcomes for our kids. If it’s a question of the legal requirements – that’s the subject matter of the lawsuit – in terms of spirits, all of us have been trying to work to improve education in Michigan for every child,” Gov. Snyder said on Monday.
This vague statement does little to explain how the state of Michigan will ensure that children have access to quality education in safe classrooms and without having to worry about how the conditions of their schools will affect their physical, mental, and emotional health.
It was the long-fought and tireless activism of Black people across the United States who ensured the 1954 Brown v Board of Education decision to provide this country’s students with equal schools no matter their race or neighborhood. Hopefully, the legacy of that landmark decision will mean that Detroit’s students see a better educational system, with baseline guarantees of safety and literacy, in the very near future.
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