ACLU Taking on Detroit Area Schools
Is learning an inalienable right? The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) believes so. An article in yesterday’s Washington Post discusses an ACLU lawsuit against the state of Michigan and Detroit for not properly educating children and infringing on their “right to learn.” Specifically, the ACLU is targeting the Highland Park School district for its incredibly low performance (one of the worst in the nation) and for graduating kids who are illiterate. Kary L. Moss, executive director of the ACLU of Michigan says that “if education is to mean anything, it means that children have a right to learn to read.”
The paper posted writing samples of Highland Park students which are troubling, to say the least. Below is one from a 14 year old seventh-grade student, named Quentin:
The article reads, “The most recent state test scores for Highland Park schools show that 65 percent of fourth-graders and 75 percent of seventh-graders were not proficient in reading.” According to Moss, “kids are getting plopped in front of computers with no teacher in the classroom or the teacher is just sitting there, not engaged … there is no individualized assessment of what they need, how they’re doing or monitoring of what’s going on.”
However, the crisis is not limited to the Highland Park School District. Earlier this year, the Institute for a Competitive Workforce issued a case study on the Detroit Public Schools system which has a graduation rate of 38%.
Michigan and more specifically, Detroit should be appalled. Here is a city that has been decimated by the recession, an auto industry that was on the brink of collapse, and a population that has diminished by 25% in the last ten years. As the city tries to rebuild itself to be one of the great economic hubs in the country, it will need a talented workforce for tomorrow and beyond. Sad to say, but it doesn’t look like Detroit area schools will be the pipeline to that workforce.