Mike Addonizio, professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in the College of Education, quoted in Detroit Free Press, "Judge says there's no fundamental right to learn to read and write"Return to news listing
Detroit Free Press, 7/1; WZZM-TV (Grand Rapids), 7/2
Judge says there's no fundamental right to learn to read and write
By Lori Higgins
Children have no fundamental right to learn to read and write, according to U.S. District Judge Stephen Murphy III, whose ruling in a closely watched lawsuit Friday left some disheartened and others raising questions. The ruling came in a federal lawsuit that was closely watched across the U.S. because of its potential impact: Filed on behalf of Detroit students, it sought to hold a dozen state officials — including Gov. Rick Snyder — accountable for what plaintiffs said were systemic failures that deprived Detroit children of their right to literacy. The lawsuit sought remedies that included literacy reforms, a systemic approach to instruction and intervention, as well as fixes to crumbling Detroit schools. Michael Addonizio, a professor of educational leadership and policy studies at Wayne State University, said that "morally and politically," Murphy's ruling is "a disappointing outcome. It's a difficult theory to swallow." But he said he suspects constitutional scholars won't be surprised. He cited as a precedent a U.S. Supreme Court case from the '70s that found education was not a fundamental right under the U.S. Constitution. "The plaintiffs wanted to make this not a case about funding or resources, but a case about the fundamentality of reading, and the right of every student to have access to that skill," Addonizio said of the Detroit lawsuit. "But I think a lot of people felt that this case was very closely related," to the earlier case. He said the plaintiff's argument "was a very worthwhile argument to make." Addonizio said if Michigan officials want to address the disparities in educational opportunities for children, "we've got to do it legislatively." He hopes the ruling will steer more focus to an issue with which he's intimately involved — an effort to ensure Michigan schools are adequately funded.