The Spark

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

There Should Be a Right to Read!

Jul 16, 2012

The ACLU has filed suit against the Highland Park Schools and the State of Michigan for failing to educate its students. The ACLU says that these students have a right to be able to read, and that this right is being violated.

They’re absolutely right – and it couldn’t be more clear: Highland Park is a poor city completely surrounded by Detroit. Three quarters of Highland Park students lack basic literacy skills to meet grade level.

One Highland Park parent put it this way: “I want my children to have the same highest level of education as Governor Rick Snyder’s children have.”

No matter what eventually happens with this lawsuit, we can be sure it will not change things for poor students in Highland Park and across the state.

If laws changed things, we’d all have an equally excellent education.

After all, Michigan law already recognizes – on paper – a right to be educated properly, and to be able to read. The law reads, in part, “a pupil who does not score satisfactorily ... shall be provided special assistance reasonably expected to enable the pupil to bring his or her reading skills to grade level within 12 months.”

Whole districts, in poor and working class cities, have students not receiving a satisfactory education. But instead of providing special assistance, the State of Michigan does the opposite: it demands that schools in poor districts cut their budgets, close schools and lay off employees. It appoints Emergency Managers to hand schools and whole districts to private interests. After Governor Snyder appointed an Emergency Manager of the district, Highland Park became one of two school districts in Michigan that plan to turn over all of their schools to a for-profit charter school company next year.

Plans to privatize districts with charters drain even more money out of poor school districts – exactly the opposite of what should be done: put MORE resources into the schools.

A right to read? In modern-day society, it’s a necessity. But it’s a necessity systematically denied to poor and working class children throughout a society organized to serve the capitalists.

The children of the poor and working class will get the education they need, only when workers take things in hand to impose their own needs.