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Students Fight For Their Right To Learn…And Lose

A group of Detroit schoolchildren filed a lawsuit against the State of Michigan for their right to receive sufficient education. They argued that they had a fundamental right to learn how to read and write — despite being educated in some of the worst public schools in the state and by teachers who don’t have the necessary materials.

The lawsuit itself sought remedies that included literacy reforms, a systemic approach to instruction and intervention, and fixes to the crumbling Detroit school buildings, according to Detroit Free Press.

Without a doubt, the children and advocates for a better education believed that the lawsuit would finally improve the educational system.

Unfortunately, they were wrong.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Murphy III ruled that children have no fundamental right to learn to read and write. “Literacy is of incalculable importance, however, the importance of a good or service does not determine whether it must be regarded as fundamental,” Judge Murphy wrote in his 40-page opinion.

Kids in America struggle to receive the best public education

Although the Michigan Student Test of Education revealed that only 44% of third graders who took the test passed, it has become evident that this is not the only state in America seeing the demise of our education system.

The online education tracker, Dosomething.org, reported that 1.3 million high school students don’t graduate on time yearly; with Black students having a 69% graduation rate, Hispanics having a 73% graduation rate, and Caucasian students only having an 88% graduation rate.

According to the site, America is ranked 36th in the world for education. Additionally, it cited that only 1 in 4 high school students graduate college-ready in the 4 core subjects of English, Reading, Math and Science. If having the ability to read and write will ensure a bright future for our nation’s children, then why do we continue to ignore the importance of providing the tools necessary to guarantee this?

Children grow to become contributors to our society, ensuring that it moves forward and can compete with other countries. Technology is a driving force that requires sharpened minds to assist with its continued progression. How can America compete with countries like China if we can’t properly educate our young people?

Cost Factor

According to the Detroit Public Schools Community District, it would cost $500 million to bring school buildings up to par. The cost would not include hiring more qualified teachers, purchasing necessary supplies, or even improving the meals that are served in the public schools. This only represents one state and, unfortunately, these education issues can be found throughout the nation.

We are incredibly selective about those things we deem important enough to invest in. The same goes for individual states that have to make a list of priorities on things they deem worthy of their funding.

One can only ask if more support would occur from state legislatures if they received more pressure from the public, and if so, why do we fail to pressure the decision makers that we vote into office? Does the blame for our children’s lack of education throughout the nation fall on the shoulders of the adults who are failing to prepare them? Finally, is the push to Congress for better education only the responsibility of the parents who have children in the lower-income communities? These are questions that no one seems to answer, and if they do, it’s only half-answered.

The future of the next generation is something that concerns every American citizen because the children of today will become the leaders of tomorrow. If they are not prepared, then we can’t get upset when they lead us all straight into the ground. It’s something to think about…but don’t take too much time doing so. Our children need us right now—and our future depends on it.

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About Audra L.

Audra L. is an author, columnist and community activist who's dedicated to finding truth through research and effective communication. She received her degree in Public Policy and teaches Community Development, Public Speaking and Communications Law to youth throughout the nation. She is the recipient of over 23 awards and honors for her commitment to community outreach initiatives.

10 comments

  1. Low education statistics are cited and form a smokescreen for the fact that everybody deserves and pays for basic education pre-K-12. Schools must be improved when they seem deficient, not by providing alternates but by working with what has existed for generations. In Detroit, no white flight, Republican administration, provision of the US Secretary of Education should deter anyone from working to improve the schools. No takeover of deficient districts as Gov. Snyder does is a substitute for more resources and better management to improve schooling. The Flint Mott Foundation schools should provide the model for raising school performance. The objective is not more testing but more learning. Involvement of the community ala Community Schools–promoted by Mott and knowledgeable school officials–is the model to get more community support in courses, learning environment, finances and student graduation rates. Charter schools, homeschooling and vouchers are no substitute for these basic aims to get better schools.

  2. Here is an interesting concept.Legalize marijuana and use a portion of the millions it will collect in taxes to revamp the schools. Easy fix.

    • That was the purpose of state lotteries and the money never got to the schools. Why? because very few states have education as a line item in their budgets. Education money comes from a “General Fund”, that anyone who needs more money for their pet projects dips into and, since there is no line item for education, all the lottery money goes to that General Fund, leaving little for education. Georgia is one of the few states that do (or did) have education as a line item in their state budget, therefore they were able to specifically assign lottery money to education and education alone. If every state amended its budget to make education a line item and could then assign monies from specific programs or taxes to that line item then it would be an easy fix.

  3. I don’t get it! Americans pay to house put food and clothing and give illegal immigrants monies to go to school for free! But when American born children need it it gets swept under the rug. Immigrants come here by the 1000’s daily. They get free college loans, don’t have to pay taxes on a business for 7 years. Why don’t we put Americans first? Especially American born children. Another thing, all these non profits collect monies to pay for this disaster or that disaster in third world countries. Why can’t they raise money for Americans first. Get American born people out of poverty and provide a free education first then help the other countries. I just don’t get it!!!

  4. Education BEGINS AT HOME! It is the PARENT’S RESPONSIBILITY to make sure THEIR children are being educated and prepared for their future. IT IS NOT THE GOVERNMENTS responsibility. When I struggled with math and reading, MY MOM stepped in to teach me and to hire a tutior.

    Too many parents pawn their kids off on publuc education, and unfortunately, the goal for many years has been to “dumb down” America’s kids. We used to be in the TOP 5 in the entire world for education…we are now 34th!!!

    The NWO has been working to destroy America’s sovereignty and contribution to the world for DECADES…LOOKS LIKE THEY’RE SUCCEEDING!

  5. Have to agree with the Judge – “learning” is not a “Natural Right” endowed by “our Creator” – it is the “pursuit of happiness” – education is a parental responsibility – do not know for sure but the Detroit public school system is probably 95%-98% black American & probably 80%+ R below the poverty scale – U cannot get blood from a turnip!! These citizens of Detroit have made their own bed since electing Coleman Young & embracing the Democratic party of the 1960’s. “God will not be mocked, a man shall reap what he has sown”!

    20 yrs N the Memphis TN, Shelby County School District, trying to help those who R more interested N “rappers” & “rims” more than learning how to speak the Queen’s English & write a legible sentence!

  6. Throwing money at the public school system is not the answer. Public school system should be abolished and the money saved returned to the taxpayer or possibly parents to enroll their kids into competitive private, schooling.

  7. When Democrats run things the priorities are their wages followed by their benefits. Nobody and nothing else matters until the campaign season at which point they promise to fix everything. How long before the people of Detroit catch on? I don’t like to say they’re slow but when you have the strictest gun control laws in the nation and the highest number of gun deaths perhaps they ought to consider that the Democrats answers aren’t all that effective.

  8. This was foretold in “Idiocracy”. It came about much quicker than anticipated.

  9. Analyses of what types of charities are most effective in the third world reveal that those whose primary purpose is educating children are more effective than any other charity. Education is the only way of poverty. We should be putting grade, junior and senior high schools as a top priority in our education budgets, not free college education.

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