Of all the things public schools are supposed to teach, literacy has to be the most important. Yet a Federal District Court in Michigan ruled that it is not a fundamental right (“ ‘Access to Literacy’ Is Not a Constitutional Right, Judge in Detroit Rules,” The New York Times, Jul. 5). Public Counsel, which led the legal team representing the students in the class-action suit, intends to appeal.
It’s hard to understand the judge’s thinking. He agreed that giving students the opportunity to learn to read was “of incalculable importance.” He also said that conditions at some Detroit schools were “nothing short of devastating.” Yet despite these acknowledgments, he dismissed the suit. I’d like to know what would persuade the judge to reverse himself?
It’s important to note that the state had been managing Detroit’s schools when such an outrage took place. I stress that fact because there is widespread belief that states are better at operating failing schools than local authorities. Clearly, this is not the case in Michigan. I intend to closely follow the case as it is appealed.
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