The lawsuit took pains to illustrate how Detroit’s schools — run under a state-appointed emergency manager — were a welter of dysfunction: overcrowded classrooms, lack of textbooks and basic materials, unqualified staff, leaking roofs, broken windows, black mold, contaminated drinking water, rodents, no pens, no paper, no toilet paper, and unsafe temperatures that had classes canceled due to 90-degree heat or classrooms so cold students could see their breath.
At times, without teachers or instructional materials, students were simply herded into rooms and asked to watch videos. …The lawsuit even mentions one eighth grade student who “taught” a seventh and eighth grade math class for a month because no teacher could be found.
…[Defending not providing better educational opportunities for students, the state argued] that the 14th Amendment contains no reference to literacy.
Then, last week, U.S. District Judge Stephen Murphy III agreed with the state.
Literacy is important, the judge noted. But students enjoy no right to access to being taught literacy. All the state has to do is make sure schools run. If they are unable to educate their students, that’s a shame, but court rulings have not established that “access to literacy” is “a fundamental right.”