Court Cases & Opinions(U.S.) -  Judge: "Schools do not have to educate" (1311 views) Notify me whenever anyone posts in this discussion.Subscribe
 
From: Glen (GEAATL) DelphiPlus Member Icon Posted by hostJul-3 5:32 PM 
To: All  (1 of 37) 
 138325.1 

Detroit not only has awful schools, but an awful federal court that won't address the problem.  This is beyond preposterous, beyond reprehensible, and is beyond all logic:

U.S. Court: Detroit students have no right to access to literacy

Detroit Metro Times  https://www.metrotimes.com/news-hits/archives/2018/07/02/us-court-detroit-students-have-no-right-to-access-to-literacy

On Friday, dumped out with the least desirable news of the week came word that a lawsuit arguing that Detroit students were being denied an education had been dismissed. Perhaps you remember the case. MT presented a cover story about it last year. With the help of a public interest law firm, a handful of Detroit students charged in federal court that educational officials in Michigan — including Gov. Rick Snyder — denied them access to an education of any quality. 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. One student claimed to have learned all the words to the film Frozen in high school. 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. We had described such teaching methods as a sort of "throw a book at them and hope they learn something" method of education — only without the book to throw. Student cannot be expected to learn when they are simply "warehoused for seven hours a day" in "an unsafe, degrading, and chaotic environment" that is a school "in name only." It is hardly surprising that, at the plaintiff's schools, which serve almost exclusively low-income children of color, almost 99 percent of the students are unable to achieve proficiency in state-mandated subjects. Last year, the state moved for dismissal, arguing 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."

 

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  • Edited July 3, 2018 5:44 pm  by  Glen (GEAATL)
 

 
From: Glen (GEAATL) DelphiPlus Member Icon Posted by hostJul-3 5:34 PM 
To: All  (2 of 37) 
 138325.2 in reply to 138325.1 

Link to the bizarre and indefensible opinion issued by U.S. District Judge Stephen Murphy III .

Additional link to same opinion:  Read the judge's ruling in the Detroit literacy lawsuit

 

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  • Edited July 3, 2018 6:04 pm  by  Glen (GEAATL)
 

 
From: Glen (GEAATL) DelphiPlus Member Icon Posted by hostJul-3 5:43 PM 
To: All  (3 of 37) 
 138325.3 in reply to 138325.2 

Judge Murphy quotes from, and then ignores, the words of a very important Supreme Court case:

In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to
succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education. Such an
opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which
must be made available to all on equal terms.

Brown v. Bd. of Educ. of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483, 493 (1954) (emphasis added).

 

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From: Glen (GEAATL) DelphiPlus Member Icon Posted by hostJul-3 6:03 PM 
To: All  (4 of 37) 
 138325.4 in reply to 138325.1 

Appeal planned in Detroit literacy lawsuit tossed by federal judge

Detroit Free Press  https://www.freep.com/story/news/education/2018/07/02/detroit-literacy-lawsuit-appeal/751767002/

Plaintiffs plan to appeal a closely watched federal lawsuit — dismissed Friday by a  judge in Detroit — that accuses Gov. Rick Snyder and other state officials of depriving Detroit children of their right to literacy. U.S. District Judge Stephen Murphy III asserted in his ruling that as important as literacy is, the U.S. Constitution doesn't guarantee a fundamental right to literacy.The students and families who are plaintiffs in the lawsuit said Monday they would appeal the ruling to the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals."Friday's decision is as deeply disappointing as having to file a lawsuit in the first place to ensure that the state of Michigan denies no child the opportunity to thrive in schools worthy of their desire to learn," Mark Rosenbaum, an attorney with the Los Angeles-based Public Counsel law firm, said in a statement...He said the court "got it tragically wrong when it characterized access to literacy as a privilege, instead of a right held by all children so that they may better their circumstances and meaningfully participate in our political system."He said in a later interview that he doesn't believe the plaintiff argument is a stretch and said children shouldn't have to go to schools where they don't have adequate supplies, where the curriculum is outdated and where the buildings are crumbling. He also noted that students in the city, on average, perform far below the state average on standardized exams and students in the Detroit Public Schools Community District have the worst literacy scores among big-city districts on a rigorous national exam.

 

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From: Glen (GEAATL) DelphiPlus Member Icon Posted by hostJul-3 6:11 PM 
To: All  (5 of 37) 
 138325.5 in reply to 138325.2 

From the Detroit News:

"Murphy ruled Friday that the due process clause doesn't require Michigan to provide access to minimally adequate education and that literacy is not a fundamental right. He also said the plaintiffs didn't prove the state was directly responsible for conditions in the schools as listed in the lawsuit.  Mark Rosenbaum, the lead attorney representing the students in the case, said in a Monday statement that Murphy's decision was "as deeply disappointing as having to file a lawsuit in the first place." "The court got it tragically wrong when it characterized access to literacy as a privilege, instead of a right held by all children so that they may better their circumstances and meaningfully participate in our political system," Rosenbaum said. "Children from affluent communities in Michigan do not attend schools in their communities lacking teachers, books and safe and sanitary conditions, and children of color and from less advantaged communities are entitled to no less."

https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/education/2018/07/02/detroit-students-appeal-literacy-rights-lawsuit-dismissal/752364002/

 

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From: Glen (GEAATL) DelphiPlus Member Icon Posted by hostJul-3 11:18 PM 
To: All  (6 of 37) 
 138325.6 in reply to 138325.1 

Here is the offensive and clearly erroneous finding of the trial judge:

"The conditions and outcomes of Plaintiffs' schools, as alleged, are nothing short of
devastating. When a child who could be taught to read goes untaught, the child suffers a
lasting injury—and so does society. But the Court is faced with a discrete question: does
the Due Process Clause demand that a State affirmatively provide each child with a
defined, minimum level of education by which the child can attain literacy? Based on the
foregoing analysis, the answer to the question is no...the Complaint clearly establishes that Plaintiffs' schools predominantly
serve children of color—four of the five schools are at least 97% African American and
the fifth is 31.1% African-American and 64.2% Latino..."

 

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From: Glen (GEAATL) DelphiPlus Member Icon Posted by hostJul-3 11:35 PM 
To: All  (7 of 37) 
 138325.7 in reply to 138325.1 

A federal judge said last week that children have no fundamental right to learn to read and write in the United States...The judge acknowledged in his opinion that illiteracy is damaging to people and society.“Plainly, literacy — and the opportunity to obtain it — is of incalculable importance,” Murphy wrote. “As plaintiffs point out, voting, participating meaningfully in civic life, and accessing justice require some measure of literacy.”  However, Murphy argued that impact of illiteracy does “not necessarily make access to literacy a fundamental right.”“I’m shocked,” Detroit Federation of Teachers President Ivy Bailey told The Detroit Free Press. “The message that it sends is that education is not important. And it sends the message that we don’t care if you’re literate or not.”

 

 

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From: WhiteMare (WhiteMare2) DelphiPlus Member IconJul-3 11:47 PM 
To: Glen (GEAATL) DelphiPlus Member Icon  (8 of 37) 
 138325.8 in reply to 138325.3 

I read the entire ruling.  It seemed to me that the Plaintiffs succeeded in many of their arguments, and the judge was quite clear about the weaknesses in the case.  To me, it even sounded like the judge was sympathetic to the Plaintiffs.  But the case came down to precedence.  Prior cases, including the Brown vs Bd of Educ of Topeka, had indicated that the opportunity of an education is not a right.  Judge Murphy emphasized this line from the Brown case "where the state has undertaken to provide it" as proof that there is no requirement that a state provide any education at all.  But the judge also talked about other ways that the Since the case is headed for Appeal. the Plaintiffs can improve their case based on the feedback from this judge. 

It seemed to me that the judge gave some very clear signals of what the Plaintiffs could do to improve their case on Appeal.  e.g. he said "In  other  words,  access  to  literacy is not a fundamental right—at least not in the positive-right sense."  The judge referred to the "negative-right" several times, and it seemed to me that was an approach that the Plaintiff could try on Appeal.  To me, the judge made a correct ruling based on how this particular case was presented, but he didn't like doing it.  He provided multiple clues for how the ruling could have been different.

White

 

 
From: Glen (GEAATL) DelphiPlus Member Icon Posted by hostJul-4 1:26 AM 
To: WhiteMare (WhiteMare2) DelphiPlus Member Icon  (9 of 37) 
 138325.9 in reply to 138325.8 

In reading the opinion I disagree. I think the judge hit the right legal points and missed almost every one.  A key one he missed is that Detroit schools were under state control due to Detroit's bankruptcy etc.  At that point the equal protection issue actually became, since Michigan provided funds to multiple systems in the state, an equal protection one (5th/14th Amendment).  Regardless of whether education is a fundamental right, once the state sought to provide the same opportunities and funding as in other areas.  And there are, and he mostly did not cite, a wealth of desegregation cases and funding cases that were precedent to rule the other way.

The Judge never mentioned the key 1974 Supreme Court case of Goss v Lope.  While that case was associated with suspensions from schools, the ruling had clear language: "Students...have property and liberty interests that qualify for protection under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment...Ohio...must recognize a student's legitimate entitlement to a public education as a property interest that is protected by the Due Process Clause...At the outset, appellants contend that because there is no constitutional right to an education at public expense, the Due Process Clause does not protect against expulsions from the public school system. This position misconceives the nature of the issue and is refuted by prior decisions. The Fourteenth Amendment forbids the State to deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law...Here, on the basis of state law, appellees plainly had legitimate claims of entitlement to a public education. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. 3313.48 and 3313.64 (1972 and Supp. 1973) direct local authorities to provide a free education to all residents between five and 21 years of age, and a compulsory-attendance law requires attendance for a school year of not less than 32 weeks...Although Ohio may not be constitutionally obligated to establish and maintain a public school system, it has nevertheless done so and has required its children to attend. Those young people do not "shed their constitutional rights" at the schoolhouse door. Tinker v. Des Moines School Dist., 393 U.S. 503, 506 (1969). "The Fourteenth Amendment, as now applied to the States, protects the citizen against the State itself and all of its creatures - Boards of Education not excepted." West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624, 637 (1943)..."Education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments," Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483, 493 (1954)"

The quote the judge gave from Brown v Board of Education, was a case where he misread the case.  To repeat it, and he added the emphasis:  "In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education. Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms. Brown v. Bd. of Educ. of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483, 493 (1954) (emphasis added)."   So, while the court may have left open the issue that a state need not have schools at all, it clearly said equal terms mattered if the did and THAT was a right.  In this case Michigan spends more on other schools it controls and helps fund outside Detroit than it does in Detroit.

The Judge also ignored history.  After the civil war, Congress placed two major conditions on southern states’ readmission to the Union: Southern states had to adopt the 14th Amendment and rewrite their state constitutions to conform to a republican form of government. In rewriting their constitutions, Congress expected states to guarantee education. Anything short was unacceptable. Southern states got the message. By 1868, nine of 10 southern states seeking admission had guaranteed education in their constitutions. Those that were slow or reluctant were the last to be readmitted.  The last three states – Virginia, Mississippi and Texas – saw Congress explicitly condition their readmission on providing education. So we have some legislative history that ties into the 14th Amendment that he ignored.

I would have expected a federal district judge to at least be familiar with precedent.  I expect he will be reversed on appeal.  I hope he is.  It is frankly pathetic that Michigan even chose to defend the case rather than fix the problem.

 

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From: Glen (GEAATL) DelphiPlus Member Icon Posted by hostJul-4 1:38 AM 
To: WhiteMare (WhiteMare2) DelphiPlus Member Icon  (10 of 37) 
 138325.10 in reply to 138325.3 

I was also surprised to see little discussion of state law in Michigan (and looked it up).  Since federal precedent in part is based on a state providing for public education, state law is relevant.  The following is from the Michigan Constitution:

Article VIII § 2:  "The legislature shall maintain and support a system of free public elementary and secondary schools as defined by law. Every school district shall provide for the education of its pupils without discrimination as to religion, creed, race, color or national origin."

Article VIII § 1: "Religion, morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged."

Article VIII § 8: "Institutions, programs, and services for the care, treatment, education, or rehabilitation of those inhabitants who are physically, mentally, or otherwise seriously disabled shall always be fostered and supported."

Article VIII § 3: "Leadership and general supervision over all public education, including adult education and instructional programs in state institutions, except as to institutions of higher education granting baccalaureate degrees, is vested in a state board of education. It shall serve as the general planning and coordinating body for all public education, including higher education, and shall advise the legislature as to the financial requirements in connection therewith."

 

 

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