Schools Don’t Have to Teach You How To Read, Federal Judge Rules

What good is a school that doesn’t teach kids how to read and write? That’s a question Detroit has collectively asked in light of its failing school system. Unfortunately, the response the city has received from a federal judge is that literacy is not a fundamental right of students.

So much for public education in the United States.

Nearly two years ago, students from Detroit filed a lawsuit against the state of Michigan for not offering an education of any substance: the teachers lack credentials, there aren’t enough textbooks or basic supplies to go around, the classrooms are overcrowded, and test scores show that students are passing through without being functionally literate.

On top of that, the facilities are run down. Students attend school in buildings with rats, broken windows, mold and restrooms in disrepair. Since many schools have neither air conditioning nor heat, classes have to be cancelled for the safety of the students.

Despite the obvious problems, the state of Michigan fought back. They contended they weren’t required to provide students with literacy skills since it’s not a guaranteed Constitutional right.

Let that sink in: the state, which has clearly already abandoned these students, said it wasn’t interested in providing the children of Detroit with an even barely adequate education.

What’s worse is that U.S. District Judge Stephen Murphy III, a George W. Bush appointee, actually agreed with the state of Michigan! Although he conceded that literacy is an important skill, the law does not stipulate it as a fundamental right.

It’s the terrible but logical next extension of a 2014 Michigan case that decided students had no guarantee to a quality education. Although the law stipulates that the state legislature has to “maintain and support a system of free elementary and secondary schools,” the courts decided that that’s not the same as saying the education had to be good.

Apparently, if the state provides something it calls “school,” there’s nothing students can do if they’re not taught things as basic as reading. Tough luck!

It’d be irresponsible to ignore the likely racism at play in this situation. Detroit public schools have a high percentage of African American students, which could very well be a factor in the state deciding it doesn’t want to devote the effort and money to fix the schools. If schools in predominately white areas of Michigan weren’t succeeding at teaching literacy, would the state be this apathetic?

American citizens have got to get real about what’s going on here – the decline of education doesn’t stop with GOP budget cuts. We cherish free public education as a right of the people, but the powers that be are making it increasingly clear that they could give a damn if the populace is actually educated. It’s time to advocate for our schools to be quality institutions rather than daycare facilities before it’s too late.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Sue H
Sue H2 months ago

This is a national disgrace.

Hannah K
Hannah K3 months ago


Mia G
Past Member 3 months ago

thank you

Janis K
Janis K3 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

Lesa D
Lesa DiIorio3 months ago

#1155 petition signed...

Lesa D
Lesa DiIorio3 months ago

thank you Kevin...

Mia G
Past Member 4 months ago

The world's gone mad.

Latoya Brookins
Latoya Brookins4 months ago

Schools aren't 14 year daycares. They need to teach students how to read, write, math, etc.

Ann B
Ann B4 months ago

can that judge read????? now for employment all must have HS education and believe it or not some cant read...sad state of affairs

Chrissie R
Chrissie R4 months ago

Where are the schools supposed to get the money? Even teachers are buying supplies out of their own pockets...