From the Washington Post:
In the first case of its kind, the American Civil Liberties Union is charging that the state of Michigan and a Detroit area school district have failed to adequately educate children, violating their “right to learn to read” under an obscure state law.
The ACLU class-action lawsuit, to be filed Thursday, says hundreds of students in the Highland Park School District are functionally illiterate.
“None of those adults charged with the care of these children . . . have done their jobs,” said Kary L. Moss, executive director of the ACLU of Michigan. “The Highland Park School District is among the lowest-performing districts in the nation, graduating class after class of children who are not literate. Our lawsuit . . . says that if education is to mean anything, it means that children have a right to learn to read.”
Setting aside the questionable and problematic assertion that people “have a right to learn to read” – it will be interesting to see how a court tries to enforce this – the ACLU’s frustration with underperforming public schools is shared by many. What’s missing from its complaint, however, is any mention of how teacher union policies contribute to the problem.
Later on in the article a teacher of readers below grade level is identified as “not provid[ing] instruction while students read books on their own, or in groups, or completed self-directed work on the computer…” Is it impossible to surmise that such behavior is protected from censure by her employment contract, the one negotiated by her union?
So far, the ACLU is suing the school district and the state, but logic demands that if you’re going to allege that “none of those adults charged with the care of these children… have done their jobs,” then someone from the Michigan Education Association needs to be included in the lawsuit’s defendant caption.
I’m sure there’s plenty of blame to go around. The ACLU should make sure that the relevant teachers union gets its fair share.