The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Court Rules That Literacy Is Not a Right

Jul 23, 2018

On June 29th, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit that had been filed on behalf of Detroit students who attended some of the lowest performing schools in Detroit while the city’s school system was under the control of state-appointed emergency managers. This lawsuit sought to hold a dozen state officials, including the governor, accountable for what the students said were systemic failures that deprived Detroit children of their right to literacy.

The lawsuit documented the low reading and math proficiency rates of Detroit students, as well as classes without teachers, and outdated or insufficient classroom materials. It noted poor conditions in school buildings, including rodents and other problems.

In his ruling, the judge asserted that while literacy is “of incalculable importance,” the state is not obligated to provide a minimal level of education by which students can obtain the ability to learn how to read. He said that while the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly emphasized the importance of a good or service, this “does not determine whether it must be regarded as fundamental.”

One Detroit student had this reaction: “Recently a court ruled that I do not have the right to read. If you had any question about whether or not the government or the courts cared about education for working class and poor students, I think you have your answer!”