The Chicago Journal

Basic Education Is Now Finally Signed as Constitutional Right

Finally, the federal appeals court has sought attention and made a constitutional right to an opportunity to send every child to school as one of their basic rights. The good news was officially aired when the Supreme Court decided on April 23 in a case involving the Detroit public school system that finally answers the intriguing question. 

However the constitution states the right to access of education for all state courts that interpret these rights in different melody. With this notion, in Michigan, children are only guaranteed the ability attend to a public school without quality.

Way back 2016, lawyers representing students attending five Detroit public schools alleged that literacy rates in these schools were in the single digits and that the school buildings urgently needed major repairs. Rodents and pests were seen in the school like mice, rats, and cockroaches. The teachers are sufficient to educate the students enrolled, and even many permanent teachers were chronically absent. The ventilation in some of the buildings did not work, the attorneys said, and windows often were broken or wouldn’t open. The few books available for students regularly were decades old.  The problem is really serious and actions must be taken immediately. 

The first trial was devastating and the lawyers representing the Detroit students then appealed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, a federal court with jurisdiction over Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. About 8% of K-12 school funding comes from the federal government nationally and with some of the funds from the state. Meanwhile in Michigan, more funding comes from the state than locally collected property taxes. The state policies that focused on teacher pensions, capital improvements, and school choice also have a significant impact on school districts’ finances should be the top priority. 

The new assumed Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had supported plaintiffs on the campaign trail and expressed her control to the school district and that the conditions in Detroit’s schools must be improved at all costs. For instance, a new superintendent and school buildings are markedly better, and last 2019 the test scores increased. Attorney General Dana Nessel has expressed his opposite view of the governor and had decided to support the Detroit students. The lawyer’s responsibility is to represent the governor, and refusing to do so is highly unusual, whether or not the two are politically aligned. 

Moreover, the appeals court’s 2-1 decision establishing the federal right to education as a legal precedent and the majority stated, “without the literacy provided by basic minimum education, it is impossible to participate in our democracy.” The majority held that states must ensure that schooling occurs in facilities staffed by teachers with materials that, at the very least, give students an opportunity to become literate.

Luckily the Michigan has appealed through the court and will likely become binding law in the four states in the Sixth Circuit. With that notion, education rights advocates who have identified low literacy rates elsewhere will likely file similar suits across the country because the court must determine concrete shot to give a spotlight to more access to education.

This case could still be appealed in one of two ways, though. If the state of Michigan appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court, it would need to do so within 90 days. Apparently the state should call 16 judges on the Sixth Circuit to give the case a chance for trial. This procedure is rare but would not be unprecedented. No matter what happens next, the appeals court’s decision will remain groundbreaking.