Is there a right to literacy?

posted at 2:01 pm on July 12, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Can illiteracy on its own be a civil-rights issue?  The ACLU believes so, and will file a lawsuit in Michigan state court on behalf of students in Highland Park School District who cannot read at grade level after several years in school.  The plaintiffs will argue that a state law requiring intervention to bring failing students up to grade-level reading skill creates a right to literacy — and that the state has to spend more money on education to meet the law’s requirements:

In the first case of its kind, the American Civil Liberties Union is charging that the state of Michigan and a Detroit area school district have failed to adequately educate children, violating their “right to learn to read” under an obscure state law.

The ACLU class-action lawsuit, to be filed Thursday, says hundreds of students in the Highland Park School District are functionally illiterate.

“None of those adults charged with the care of these children . . . have done their jobs,” said Kary L. Moss, executive director of the ACLU of Michigan. “The Highland Park School District is among the lowest-performing districts in the nation, graduating class after class of children who are not literate. Our lawsuit . . . says that if education is to mean anything, it means that children have a right to learn to read.”

The complaint, to be filed in state court in Wayne County, is based on a 1993 state lawthat says if public school students are not proficient in reading, as determined by tests given in grades 4 and 7, they must be provided “special assistance” to bring them to grade level within a year.

But at Highland Park, a three-school district bordering Detroit, most of the struggling students are years behind grade level and never received the kind of assistance required by law, the ACLU said.

Does this law create a “civil right” to literacy? I take a very restrictive view of what constitutes a “right.”  Inherent natural rights come from the status of being born a free person, from the hand of the Creator, but those rights are not confiscatory in nature.  We have the right to free speech, to freely worship as we see fit, to own the means to defend ourselves, and to be secure in our own persons.  None of those involve delivering services to individuals, by means confiscated from others.

For instance, the right to free speech does not confer the right to be published, unless I own the printing press and other means of publication.  The right to worship freely does not mean that my neighbors have to build me a church, and especially not that the government has to provide one.  To the point of this issue, I have the right to seek education, but I don’t have a “right” to be educated, unless I’m educating myself.

However, we have created public education systems that deliver these services because we see a value in ensuring that each child receives a basic education.  In communities, states, and the nation, we allocate significant resources to ensure that each child has access to that education — even to the extent of mandating attendance in some sort of educational program until the age of 16 in most states — and impose standards to measure the success and failure of those efforts.  When those systems fail to deliver an effective education, it may not be a violation of a “civil right,” but it’s nonetheless a problem that needs a resolution.

And in this case, it’s certainly a problem:

One student in the Highland Park district, a 14-year-old boy named Quentin, just finished seventh grade. Quentin, whose mother asked that his last name be withheld, reads at a first-grade level, according to an expert hired by the ACLU.

When asked to compose a letter to Snyder to describe his school, Quentin misspelled his own name, writing, “My name is Quemtin . . . and you can make the school gooder by geting people that will do the jod that is pay for get a football tame for the kinds mybe a baksball tamoe get a other jamtacher for the school get a lot of tacher.”

Yikes.  Obviously, not every child succeeds at school, but those with no significant cognitive issues can usually be taught to read and write well enough to become self-sufficient adults.  Unfortunately, we know a lot of school systems fail at delivering that kind of education, and it’s not usually a question of funding schools — it’s a question of funding priorities in schools.  In a report last year, Michigan ranked 22nd in the nation in per-student spending, at almost $12,000 per student.  That should be sufficient to at least teach literacy, and the fact that so many in Highland Park district aren’t achieving it suggests that the problem is specific to the district.

Michigan, though, passed the law that requires interventions from the state when children fail to read at grade level between grades 4-7.  They have to follow the law.  That doesn’t create a “civil right” as such, but it does create a requirement for the state to adequately resource its education system to follow its own legal code.  The question of “rights” in this case should really be secondary.  Primarily, Michigan and its taxpayers should be reading these essays from Highland Park students and asking where the $94,000 spent so far on Quentin’s education has gone.


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Comment pages: 1 2

Democrats demand illiteracy.

Se also: Department of Education, NEA

tom daschle concerned on July 12, 2012 at 2:03 PM

May the Michigan congress repeal the law if this is what the ACLU is going to do with it.

NotCoach on July 12, 2012 at 2:03 PM

There is a right to idiocy.

The founding fathers made sure of it.

Therefore there is a right to illiteracy.

Schadenfreude on July 12, 2012 at 2:04 PM

The ACLU believes so, and will file a lawsuit in Michigan state court on behalf of students in Highland Park School District who cannot read at grade level after several years in school. The plaintiffs will argue that a state law requiring intervention to bring failing students up to grade-level reading skill creates a right to literacy — and that the state has to spend more money on education to meet the law’s requirements:


How about a MULTI-MILLION STUDENT CLASS ACTION lawsuit against the NEA?

Bankrupt them, like they are doing to us?

PappyD61 on July 12, 2012 at 2:05 PM

So who got paid to write the big “illiteracy” sign, and how did they intend to reach their audience?

BKennedy on July 12, 2012 at 2:06 PM

To be certain. The looters on the left love their moochers in the modern day plantations, illiterate, uninformed, uneducated.

Once they’d get literate, informed, educated there’s no way they’d stay in the plantation. They’d get out and become looters at worst and conservatives/libertarians at best.

NO one hates the illiterates more than Obama and his cohort.

It is the most untold story.

This is why they hate this man so much.

Schadenfreude on July 12, 2012 at 2:06 PM

Primarily, Michigan and its taxpayers should be reading these essays from Highland Park students and asking where the $94,000 spent so far on Quentin’s education has gone.

It went to the teachers union, Ed. Wake up!

JPeterman on July 12, 2012 at 2:07 PM

This is rich considering what someone posted in a headline thread about what Biden said to the NAACP today…

Wow! Biden to the NAACP:“Children should be educated to the degree they are educable.”

Um…er…is he tellin’ those folks that the failure and drop-out rates among blacks are…genetic?

IMAGINE…for just a moment…if Romney had said anything like this at all to that group! IMAGINE it! IMAGINE!

Rational Thought on July 12, 2012 at 1:06 PM

MobileVideoEngineer on July 12, 2012 at 2:07 PM

I agree it falls short of a civil right …it’s more of a civil duty.

lexhamfox on July 12, 2012 at 2:08 PM

Now this is something I can support by the ACLU.

My school district just hired a new superintendent from another suburban Detroit district, East China. During his tenure the district significantly improved graduation rates, state test scores, and SAT scores. So it can be done, even in Michigan, if the administrators know what they are doing and are held accountable.

rockmom on July 12, 2012 at 2:09 PM

Leftists believe in hammocks.

Rightists believe in safety nets.

Allen West.

Schadenfreude on July 12, 2012 at 2:09 PM

Illiteracy and ignorance are the seeds of Socialism. Socialism cannot exist, unless The People are either too stupid, or too ignorant, to understand that Socialism is anathema to freedom and liberty.

Sidebar:

I want to vomit, everytime I hear an imbecile utter … “I mean” … “like” … and/or “um,” after every second word in an attempt to spit out a coherent sentence.

OhEssYouCowboys on July 12, 2012 at 2:09 PM

The ACLU is sort of on the right track with this issue. But instead of suing to force Michigan and Highland Park to provide tutors to these kids, it should be suing to force Michigan and Highland Park to hire competent teachers in the first place. Yes, there will be kids who for one reason or another fail to learn how to read, but a competent teacher will produce far fewer of those kids — and will identify the kids who need the extra help at a much younger age.

catsandbooks on July 12, 2012 at 2:09 PM

All these little darlings in school need to learn, write a D a thousand times to get who they should vote for?
L

letget on July 12, 2012 at 2:10 PM

Nobody can keep another person from learning to read. That is impossible. Frederick Douglas was a self taught reader, and he was a slave who faced death if found out.

We have freedom of choice and can make ourselves literate, or allow others to teach us the skill, or we can eschew literacy. But the state cannot keep me from learning to read or force me to learn if I set myself against it.

Trey

TMink on July 12, 2012 at 2:10 PM

Primarily, Michigan and its taxpayers should be reading these essays from Highland Park students and asking where the $94,000 spent so far on Quentin’s education has gone.

And then summarily dismiss the answer if it doesn’t suit their ideology. :)

Axe on July 12, 2012 at 2:11 PM

The ACLU in this case is showing the typical liberal conflation of opportunity with outcome. Or maybe they just see this as a convenient way to get their name in the papers. But even if you accept the ACLU claim on its merits, why should the remedy be spending even more money? Couldn’t it be argued that a more productive remedy would be to fire some of the teachers and hire better ones? Or ditto with the administrators? The ACLU is like the Krugman-Raven in Iowahawk’s parody of Poe. No matter what the facts are, no matter what the problem is, the solution is always: spend some more.

jwolf on July 12, 2012 at 2:12 PM

A. Department of Education
C. Teacher’s Unions
B. a lack of ability to read and write.
D. 8ffirmative Action
E. Political Correctness
F. Social Justice
G. Liberalism
H. ???

(some assembly required)

Seven Percent Solution on July 12, 2012 at 2:12 PM

The “…adults charged with the care of these children” are the parents of these children. The parents are ultimately responsible for the education and care of their children. You cannot delegate this to the city or state and expect good results. Schools can be benificial, but it remains the responsibility of the parents.

bob4096 on July 12, 2012 at 2:13 PM

Since people are forced to pay for public schools, even people with no children, parents have a right to expect teachers to teach their children to read and comprehend the written word. It’s the job they’re being paid with extorted money to do.
That, of course, doesn’t remove the responsibility of the parents and students to put forth the effort necessary to achieve literacy.
Literacy a right? No. It’s something that can only be achieved through personal effort. It isn’t God given.

single stack on July 12, 2012 at 2:14 PM

HP and Detroit school systems have stolen the futures of 2 generations worth of children. Rather than take full and total control of the situation and be called racist, the state just fed the problem more money over the years.

The hidden cost of bleeding heart liberalism at its finest.

later on July 12, 2012 at 2:14 PM

There is a right to idiocy.

The founding fathers made sure of it.

Therefore there is a right to illiteracy.

Schadenfreude on July 12, 2012 at 2:04 PM

The topic reminded me of a speech Ronald Reagan’s gave while he was running for president. He enumerated several rights people have, ending the list with something like, “…and, yes, even the right to be stupid.”

However, maybe we’re not hearing enough “Are you willing to accept the consequences for your choice?”

apostic on July 12, 2012 at 2:15 PM

OhEssYouCowboys on July 12, 2012 at 2:09 PM

Love your comments and will not say this to fight with you.

However, there are different kinds of socialism. Ultimately they all fail. Still, the people of the former Western Europe, now the EU, are highly educated. Still, they love the long vacations, the handouts, the bennies, the loafing, while taxing the producers, in some cases like the former Sweden, up to 96%.

At some point then the system collapses…why Sweden has a ‘conservative’ regime now.

What you mentioned is more a concoction of the Marx/Engels/Lenin socialism/communism.

Anyway, meant in a good way.

Schadenfreude on July 12, 2012 at 2:15 PM

This is again liberals stepping in to guarantee equal outcome. THe constitution was never suppose to be used that way. The constitution guaranteed equal opportunity not equal outcome.

melle1228 on July 12, 2012 at 2:15 PM

Yeah, let’s FORCE parents to care – LOL.

Pork-Chop on July 12, 2012 at 2:16 PM

“None of those adults charged with the care of these children . . . have done their jobs,”

And too often we overlook the adults with the primary responsibility -parents.

No doubt schools have their problems. But the overwhelming majority of the times a child isn’t thriving in school, the biggest problem is at home, not in school.

I see the same (often) misguided thinking applied to childhood obesity. Some people seem to think if we come up with the perfect school lunch, it will reduce childhood obesity. But the problem isn’t what kids eat in school, its what they eat outside school that’s the problem.

The best school system in the world can only do so much with students who come to school unprepared, who’s parents don’t value their education, didn’t read to them when they were little, don’t make their child’s education a daily part of their (the parent’s) lives.

Kids take their cues from their parents. If parents don’t demonstrate to their kids the value of education by being active participants, the kid doesn’t have a chance.

taznar on July 12, 2012 at 2:16 PM

A wise man (my Dad, a longtime educator) often says, “Every child has a desire to read and learn–until his peers, parents and teachers drive it out of him.”

But I bet the end result of this will be a pioneering partnership between the ACLU and the NEA; you know, the lawyers for the plaintiffs partnering with the perpetrators–to the ultimate continued neglect of the victims.

rwenger43 on July 12, 2012 at 2:17 PM

Now this is something I can support by the ACLU.

rockmom on July 12, 2012 at 2:09 PM

You’re mistaken. All this is is an attempt by the ACLU to force the state goverments to give more money to the Teachers and the Teachers’ Unions. Quoting from Ed’s analysis:

and that the state has to spend more money on education to meet the law’s requirements:

What they are suing for (assuming Ed is reporting the situation accurately) is an increase in spending using literacy as an excuse. That is all.

Doomberg on July 12, 2012 at 2:17 PM

And for the record, I blame the parents. How could you not possibly know that your child can’t read or write properly.

JPeterman on July 12, 2012 at 2:17 PM

The ACLU is sort of on the right track with this issue. But instead of suing to force Michigan and Highland Park to provide tutors to these kids, it should be suing to force Michigan and Highland Park to hire competent teachers in the first place. Yes, there will be kids who for one reason or another fail to learn how to read, but a competent teacher will produce far fewer of those kids — and will identify the kids who need the extra help at a much younger age.

catsandbooks on July 12, 2012 at 2:09 PM

That is a local issue that should be left to the school board and the parents. If the NEA didn’t have such political pull, it would be. This is not a constitutional issue.

melle1228 on July 12, 2012 at 2:17 PM

So who got paid to write the big “illiteracy” sign, and how did they intend to reach their audience?

BKennedy on July 12, 2012 at 2:06 PM

Yea! Ironic, A large sign advertising to someone that can’t read it. Sorry, I couldn’t help it.

abupundit on July 12, 2012 at 2:17 PM

Sounds like Quentin comes from a a single Mom who’s not paying attention and the school has played only a day care roll.

Both the school and Quentin’s parents have failed him.

Robert Jensen on July 12, 2012 at 2:19 PM

The “…adults charged with the care of these children” are the parents of these children. The parents are ultimately responsible for the education and care of their children. You cannot delegate this to the city or state and expect good results. Schools can be benificial, but it remains the responsibility of the parents.

bob4096 on July 12, 2012 at 2:13 PM

You’re 100% correct. Which is why part of the Collective plan was to destroy the family and take over the public school system. When children don’t know who their fathers are, and are “raised” in matriarchies that are doomed to rely on State assistance – then those children are usually “educated” by the State vis-a-vis the public school system, and those children become clay, to be molded by the State, without any parental interference.

When the parents have either abdicated their responsibilities, or they aren’t even around in the first place … the children are tailor-made to become wards of the State.

OhEssYouCowboys on July 12, 2012 at 2:22 PM

Here’s a thought: how about suing the kids! That might make the parents pay attention.

Early grade school failed to teach each of my children to read (the fad at the time was word identification-don’t ask!) I took it upon myself to teach them for 10 minutes a day. They were reading above grade level in no time.

It’s not rocket science.

2L8 on July 12, 2012 at 2:23 PM

In the first case of its kind, the American Civil Liberties Union is charging that the state of Michigan and a Detroit area school district have failed to adequately educate children, violating their “right to learn to read” under an obscure state law.

Another fake “right” dreamed up by the left….there is no “right” to be literate. One has the “right” to be as illiterate and stupid as one wants to be.

There is, however, a “responsibility” to be literate. A responsibility of the parents first and foremost, and one that should be demanded of their children. Its also the parents responsibility that schools provide the tools necessary, secondarily, to reinforce teaching literacy and their children’s responsibility to apply effort to learn to be literate at least at the most basic level.

hawkeye54 on July 12, 2012 at 2:25 PM

Before putting all the blame on the parents, remember that many of them went through the same system, and it’s quite likely that a significant portion of them are functionally illiterate also. If the parents weren’t taught to read and write, even if they want the best for their children, the best they can do is sent them to school. Given what we’ve seen out of the schools lately (e.g. that “civics” teacher in MD screaming about disrespecting Obama being illegal, in barely intelligible “english”?) that’s a pretty slim hope for a lot of children, even the ones who want to learn.

I agree that literacy isn’t a civil right, but one might be able to argue that being forced to attend and pay for school systems which actively work against literacy is probably some sort of civil rights violation. If nothing else one should be able to argue some sort of failure of fiduciary responsibility on the part of the school districts.

LibraryGryffon on July 12, 2012 at 2:28 PM

OhEssYouCowboys on July 12, 2012 at 2:09 PM

Love your comments and will not say this to fight with you.

However, there are different kinds of socialism. Ultimately they all fail. Still, the people of the former Western Europe, now the EU, are highly educated. Still, they love the long vacations, the handouts, the bennies, the loafing, while taxing the producers, in some cases like the former Sweden, up to 96%.

At some point then the system collapses…why Sweden has a ‘conservative’ regime now.

What you mentioned is more a concoction of the Marx/Engels/Lenin socialism/communism.

Anyway, meant in a good way.

Schadenfreude on July 12, 2012 at 2:15 PM

Not to worry. I enjoy your comments, and always read them. I take no offense with your response.

But, that’s why I said “ignorant,” which doesn’t equate to stupid or illiterate. When children are generationally raised in a Statist system, they know nothing other than Statism, and reliance upon the State. Therefore, they are ignorant of any other system, having no other frame-of-reference.

Again, I enjoy your posts.

OhEssYouCowboys on July 12, 2012 at 2:28 PM

Doomberg on July 12, 2012 at 2:17 PM

If it’s only about reading, and the solution is to order the school district to hire reading tutors, I really don’t have a problem with that. If they have to raise local property taxes to pay for that, tough. Maybe the homeowners will start paying attention and demand better schools.

I’m all about the children now, we have to save them or our country is doomed. I don’t care about having symbolic smackdowns of teacher’s unions or just clucking that it’s their parent’s fault. If the teachers can’t or won’t teach and the principal won’t or can’t fire them, something still must be done to get these kids to read and write and learn some skills.

rockmom on July 12, 2012 at 2:31 PM

“Acting White?”

(interesting read)

Seven Percent Solution on July 12, 2012 at 2:33 PM

If I were defending the school system in this lawsuit, the first thing I would ask for is Quentin’s attendance records. A lot of students who read and write as poorly he does don’t show up on a regular basis. I would also want to know how many different schools he has attended. Lack of continuity also contributes to illiteracy. If the kid is coming to school every day and has attended the same school for most of his education, then I’d look to assign blame to his teachers. But a teacher can’t teach a kid who isn’t there, and he or she can’t follow him if he keeps changing schools.

elliesmom on July 12, 2012 at 2:34 PM

Shouldn’t the ACLU be suing the teacher’s union?

This clearly should be a blue on blue issue, but the ACLU isn’t going to sue the Teachers Union who is responsible for lousy teachers keeping their teaching positions. Instead they are going after “Big” tax payer who fund the school district, that’s the target of the law suit. Because it’s not about literacy, it’s about bleeding the middle class dry in this country. Anyway that poor kid will be the recipient of “Wealth Redistribution” in the form of being paid for not learning if this suit is decided in his favor. Sure the lawyers will get a bigger chunk of the tax payer’s money then the kids family, but that’s what you get from the trail lawyers who support the Democrat Party a tax payer “shake down”. One way or another they are going to squeeze money out of the tax payers in the form of more taxes or in the form of litigation.

Dr Evil on July 12, 2012 at 2:36 PM

That poor child, Quentin, was left behind.

Fallon on July 12, 2012 at 2:36 PM

Soros and Madam (as in whorehouse) Pelosi are targeting Allen West.

Read the comments too – incredible ironies…

Schadenfreude on July 12, 2012 at 2:37 PM

I would argue that if taxpayers are having their money forcibly confiscated from them for the express purpose of providing an education to children, and that the children are not receiving such education that (1) their rights are being violated; (2) that administrators and supervisors who are supposed to be responsible for making sure the students are educated be liable to PRISON SENTENCES and or PERSONAL FINES. In the corporate world, a supervisor who fails to supervise and under whose watch a case of major fraud occurs may face possible jail time for his or her failure to detect and stop the fraud. If the supervisor has signed off on the work of an employee, they are stating that they have checked the accuracy of it, and are responsible for it afterwards. Why should the same rule not apply to the public schools? In the corporate world, supervisors do tend to check their employees work. And only rarely do employees ever commit cases of major fraud, knowing that they will be caught by their supervisors. Would not public school superintendents be more motivated to make sure that the teachers they oversee are doing worthwhile performance, if they knew that they might be held accountable for the failure of their employees?

DrUrchin on July 12, 2012 at 2:37 PM

They’ll blame Bush for leaving the child behind.

Schadenfreude on July 12, 2012 at 2:37 PM

I got an email offering consulting services that must have been written by a graduate of the Highland Park School District.

PastorJon on July 12, 2012 at 2:37 PM

As someone who lives in Detroit I can tell you that in the AA community here there has never been that sense of pride or accomplishment in education even going back to when the freed slaves started coming north with the factory boom. It was always about going to school until you were old enough to drop out and work at the factory. These days, you can’t find a job as a school drop out and it’s creating a vacuum where the culture will need to change to catch up to the reality of what’s necessary to be successful these days. Meanwhile, you’ll see many stories similar to this one where the parents either didn’t instill any sense of education or reading to their kids, or they were absent from their childhood for whatever reason.

KingOfTheRoad on July 12, 2012 at 2:41 PM

In liberal America you have a right to everything except your liberty and property.

gwelf on July 12, 2012 at 2:42 PM

In the first case of its kind, the American Civil Liberties Union is charging that the state of Michigan and a Detroit area school district have failed to adequately educate children, violating their “right to learn to read” under an obscure state law.

The ACLU class-action lawsuit, to be filed Thursday, says hundreds of students in the Highland Park School District are functionally illiterate.

“right to learn to read”?? LOL. This was written by a functional illiterate. What a friggin imbecile. Honestly. I can’t say that I’m surprised this sort of insanity comes from lawyers. THey are among the dumbest people in society … and yet, we let them run everything with their demented pea-brains.

“right to learn to read” … ROFLMAO! “Right to reading instruction”, perhaps (though that is still ridiculous) but at some point people who are this dumb need to be totally excised from society. Otherwise, we end up with people in power who talk about idiotic notions such as “profit AND earnings ratios” or muse about our “57 states” or can’t pronounce the word “corpsman” or thinks that “What do they think stimulus is? Spending IS stimulus!!” … and at that point this nation is toast. Ugly toast, at that.

I friggin hate lawyers. They’re mostly demented scum without two brain cells to rub together.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on July 12, 2012 at 2:45 PM

“My name is Quemtin . . . and you can make the school gooder by geting people that will do the jod that is pay for get a football tame for the kinds mybe a baksball tamoe get a other jamtacher for the school get a lot of tacher.”

I don’t know, not too dissimilar from Ed’s writing prior to his first cup of coffee! Maybe Quemtin just needed a 5 hour energy drink. Of course, I would never accuse the ACLU or finding the worst possible case and then market it as if it were the norm…nah!

Deano1952 on July 12, 2012 at 2:47 PM

(interesting read)

Seven Percent Solution on July 12, 2012 at 2:33 PM

Interesting indeed, but hardly grounhdbreaking. I’ve heard this back n forth argument for as long as I have been going to school (late 60′s till 90′s).

There is no doubt, from my experiences, that there *is* a stigma against children that want to learn that are accused of “acting white”, even in schools where white children are the clear minority or hardly represented at all.

This is more of a cultural phenomena from kids peers nowadays more than adults “targeting” children. Again, I’m going by experience in my life in a urban school (NYC School system), & going to a private school for 3 yrs.

BlaxPac on July 12, 2012 at 2:47 PM

Unfortunately, we know a lot of school systems fail at delivering that kind of education, and it’s not usually a question of funding schools — it’s a question of funding priorities in schools.

No. It’s a combination of really stupid students and really stupid teachers. The Education Department is the dumbest department at most universities with the average GRE of intended Ed grads being the LOWEST of all grad school applicants. The retards in education even score lower on the math sections than the English grads! No joke.

And these idiots going into education don’t realize that they have better chances in law school. But, we end up with people with 84 IQs teaching kids who aren’t too bright, themselves, which is a pretty toxic situation. Society has a right to be protected from all of these idiots.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on July 12, 2012 at 2:50 PM

Illiterate? Write for Help!

The front picture is sorta funny.

Lack of money didn’t create this problem and money isn’t going to cure it. Poor teachers and the climate that accepts and fosters them is a large part of the problem as well as uncaring or absent parents.

sharrukin on July 12, 2012 at 2:50 PM

In this entire post, where is the word “parent”? The state has now become a surrogate parent. It is the parent’s responsibility to birth, nourish, clothe, supply and care for the child–and they can/are punished when they don’t do that. So, now it’s the state’s responsibility to educate the child to a certain standard? What is the parent’s role in that? Since when does one party presume that the state should “effectively” educate, or maleducate, a student and then logically lay the blame/responsibility for the maleducation at the foot of the state? Moreover, if the student has a broken home, eats poorly, and lives in squalor and has to fight his/her way to and from school, what proportion of those factors leads to the ineffective education?

The truth is that parents are responsible for seeing that their children are educated. It is far harder, and far more expensive for the state to do it. The outcomes are poorer when the state does it. These are facts.

ted c on July 12, 2012 at 2:51 PM

These days, you can’t find a job as a school drop out

Well, one could find a job, save for two factors. Competing with illegals in those jobs drop outs used to be able to get and the elimination of many industrial factory low skill entry jobs once a magnet for drop outs. Also the desire to actually want to apply oneself to work in the first place.

hawkeye54 on July 12, 2012 at 2:53 PM

“Americans have the right to learn how to read ‘corpsman’ without being laughed at!! If anyone ends up being too stupid or illiterate to know how to pronounce that word … it’s America’s fault!! Whitey’s fault, mostly … those devils!” — Jay Carney

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on July 12, 2012 at 2:54 PM

I’m confused, how is a lawsuit supposed to improve literacy?
Apparently, there are already laws on the books requiring remedial education for those who are illiterate. It would seem to be a combination of poor socioeconomic environment, stupid children, uninvolved parents and incompetent teachers. How does the ACLU expect their lawsuit to remedy this problem? Will it improve the local SES?Will the suit make children smart? Will it get parents involved? Will it result in more competent teachers?

What a waste of time and money. The ACLU would be better off having all the unemployed lawyers in the country give free literacy tutoring.

talkingpoints on July 12, 2012 at 2:55 PM

No. It’s a combination of really stupid students and really stupid teachers

And add really stupid parents, who themselves are products of really stupid teachers in an abysmally stupid system.

But then that’s what the left wants of its base. Stupid lemmings easily assimilated and manipulated.

hawkeye54 on July 12, 2012 at 2:57 PM

we have created public education systems that presumes to deliver these services because we see a value in ensuring that each child receives a basic education.

True. However, when we see the method of delivering that education followed by the results–Quentin’s outcome et al…. when do we get around to questioning the method over the money?

One must begin to cast considerable doubt on the methods utilized in public education. The outcomes are clear, the factors contributing to both high and low quality education must be discussed. Merely seeking to blame the state when the state is essentially flaccid at delivering is like blaming a limp d!ck for a pregnancy. Misplaced outrage that will essentially lead back to the tried and true solution–throw more money at it. Unfortunately, throwing money at Quentin doesn’t help Quentin–that is the truth.

ted c on July 12, 2012 at 2:57 PM

With a set of old timey reading primers, one can learn to read very competnently with minimal gidance IF one is willing to work a bit at it…and could even teach oneself to read (although that is a lot more difficult).

The district being sued should counterclaim against the parents and children … who obviously didn’t require or do the needed wrok to become literate.

krome on July 12, 2012 at 2:58 PM

answer me this, smart fellas….. What was the most important reason driving the push for literacy wayyyy back when illiteracy was more prevalent???

to get a good job?
to get into college?

c’mon…..give it a try.

ted c on July 12, 2012 at 3:00 PM

I might agree with the concept if the ACLU also sued the parents of all the underperforming students. That is where the majority of the fault lies.

exhelodrvr on July 12, 2012 at 3:00 PM

do you know that the two most important factors in successful educational outcomes are parent-related factors??????

it’s not state money….its not the number of math hours…..its not arugala on the lunch table….

ted c on July 12, 2012 at 3:01 PM

how is a lawsuit supposed to improve literacy?

It really isn’t about improving literacy. Its more about justifying redistributing even more tax money into a failed system. Yeah, spending more money per pupil, hiring “literacy” specialists for every classroom and added to the teachers union rolls should do the trick.

hawkeye54 on July 12, 2012 at 3:05 PM

This is a farce or the kid is mentally retarded or he was just passed along in school never having to complete anything. That letter wasn’t even first-grade level; I have a hard time believing, assuming this is all true, that he can read.

Let’s just say I’m highly skeptical of this situation, notwithstanding judicial merits.

John Kettlewell on July 12, 2012 at 3:07 PM

Does he do his homework? How many books are in his home? How many hours a day does he watch TV? What kind of music does he listen to? Where does he go when school is dismissed? Does he live in a two parent household where all his siblings have the same parents?

There are many questions about young Quentin that need to be addressed before you can lay the entire blame for his illiteracy on the school.

Bob's Kid on July 12, 2012 at 3:08 PM

In the 1950s Highland Park was a Look Magazine All-American City. It was the home of Chrysler’s world headquarters and its schools were considered the best public schools in the state. A lot has changed since the 1950s.

bw222 on July 12, 2012 at 3:13 PM

how is a lawsuit supposed to improve literacy?

it can’t. The lawsuit is to marry Quentin to the state and the state to Quentin even closer than they really are now. BTW, is Quentin’s mom named Julia?

ted c on July 12, 2012 at 3:14 PM

There are many questions about young Quentin that need to be addressed before you can lay the entire blame for his illiteracy on the school.

Bob’s Kid on July 12, 2012 at 3:08 PM

the ACLU exonerates the school and Quentin’s parents……and they misplace the argument.

The plaintiffs will argue that a state law requiring intervention to bring failing students up to grade-level reading skill creates a right to literacy — and that the state has to spend more money on education to meet the law’s requirements:

So, not Highland Park, not the district, not the parents, but the State must pay more.

illogical connections.

ted c on July 12, 2012 at 3:17 PM

he was just passed along in school never having to complete anything.

Probably this. Hardly anyone is held back, and grading is so judgmental anyway. As long as you’ve at least attended a reasonably sufficient number of school days so your share of federal funds can be received, and your self-esteem appears to be reasonably fair you are shoved off to the next grade level so your former desk or chair can be used for the next body to be counted for federal funding.

hawkeye54 on July 12, 2012 at 3:17 PM

Let’s just say I’m highly skeptical of this situation, notwithstanding judicial merits.

John Kettlewell on July 12, 2012 at 3:07 PM

You can probably believe it. I used to teach at a city university (lots of kids from city public schools) and many of them were working at the 2nd grade level while in college – honest to G-d. The sort of people who think that having their health insurance premiums reduced by 3000% is great … or at least it must be, if they understood what it meant! And it was a half-decent university, too. I taught in the math department and I used to have to teach some of the required courses, which get some bad students but not the worst (the worst are in the remedial courses). You should have seen some of the stuff that passed across my desk. Sometimes I felt as if I was staring into pure insanity.

Don’t underestimate how stupid and truly ignorant some of these city school “graduates” are. It would make your head spin. From a 14 year old, I can easily believe this. There’s a reason why so much of America actually doesn’t know that Barky is a retard … because compared to them, he isn’t.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on July 12, 2012 at 3:18 PM

None of those adults parents charged with the care of these children

Fixed.

davidk on July 12, 2012 at 3:19 PM

but the State must pay more.

illogical connections.

Certainly is not illogical in the minds of the local education admin and teachers unions. Its all about the money and power, not the kids.

hawkeye54 on July 12, 2012 at 3:20 PM

Perfect settlement to the case:

Disband the public schools system and issue vouchers to all students for the face value of the current “per pupil spending”. They could all afford to pay for a terrific private school education and I am sure the private schools could even find the $$ to transport these kids to their location for that kind of voucher amount.

Problem solved.

Oh, and it also eliminates a bunch of useless public union employees.

Winner for all involved, the taxpayers, the kids and the parents who want their kids to learn to read and write.

karenhasfreedom on July 12, 2012 at 3:23 PM

My school district just hired a new superintendent from another suburban Detroit district, East China.

rockmom on July 12, 2012 at 2:09 PM

East China is hardly a Detroit suburb. We live in the northernmost Detroit suburbs. My daughter played soccer against East China. It was over 45 minutes northeast of us. East China is in the middle of nowhere.

But, there are good public school districts in the Detroit suburbs, mostly the north suburbs.

bw222 on July 12, 2012 at 3:29 PM

Problem solved.

Oh, and it also eliminates a bunch of useless public union employees.

Winner for all involved, the taxpayers, the kids and the parents who want their kids to learn to read and write.

karenhasfreedom on July 12, 2012 at 3:23 PM

No, Karen. The problem is decidedly not solved with that plan. The winner must be the school district which needs more money. $94K alone is not enough to get Quentin’s thumb outta his mouth. It’s merely a shakedown. Winning for the taxpayers, the kid and his parents is certainly #notwinning when it comes to the solution. The PEUs there need to here Quentin’s parents flushing more tax $$ down the sh!tter and into their pockets— and that is how we describe #winning. /

ted c on July 12, 2012 at 3:33 PM

Tell me, how does an illiterate read and understand that sign?

stukinIL4now on July 12, 2012 at 3:35 PM

Primarily, Michigan and its taxpayers should be reading these essays from Highland Park students and asking where the $94,000 spent so far on Quentin’s education has gone.

Liberals always pretend they can read the magical eminations and penumbras of imaginary “Constitutional rights” to pretty much everything EXCEPT massive government malfeasance.

Newsflash: That is the ONLY right the Constitution guarantees.

logis on July 12, 2012 at 3:41 PM

And for the record, I blame the parents. How could you not possibly know that your child can’t read or write properly.

JPeterman on July 12, 2012 at 2:17 PM

If the parent cannot read or write properly, how would they know? We’re on the third generation of folks who have no need (literally) of good education. Don’t worry about the kid – besides, he’s going to be a sports superstar anyway, and makes lots of money, y’know…
One of the points in the 1900 Second International plan was to emphasize sports – in this way, the masses would be distracted from more important things in their leisure time. It was hoped sports would take the place of religion.

DublOh7 on July 12, 2012 at 3:48 PM

since when did money equal literacy?

burserker on July 12, 2012 at 3:48 PM

So it can be done, even in Michigan, if the administrators know what they are doing and are held accountable.

rockmom on July 12, 2012 at 2:09 PM

Just as likely that administrator has learned how to play the system better, he knows how to cheat on the tests.

People whined about the standardized testing required by NCLB – maybe Quentin would be better off if he had been held back until he actually had mastered the subject matter or aged out of school. Stop teaching feel good stuff and spend the early years on reading. Social promotion to avoid impacting little Johnny’s self-esteem has resulted in him graduating with his peers but not beng able to read his diploma.

katiejane on July 12, 2012 at 3:54 PM

The ACLU is sort of on the right track with this issue. But instead of suing to force Michigan and Highland Park to provide tutors to these kids, it should be suing to force Michigan and Highland Park to hire competent teachers in the first place. Yes, there will be kids who for one reason or another fail to learn how to read, but a competent teacher will produce far fewer of those kids — and will identify the kids who need the extra help at a much younger age.

catsandbooks on July 12, 2012 at 2:09 PM
That is a local issue that should be left to the school board and the parents. If the NEA didn’t have such political pull, it would be. This is not a constitutional issue.

melle1228 on July 12, 2012 at 2:17 PM

…WELL THERE’S NO SECRET WHY WE ARE A BLUE STATE!
…I bet New York and California have some school systems that have similar problems… caused by that disease called liberalism.

KOOLAID2 on July 12, 2012 at 3:59 PM

A large sign advertising to someone that can’t read it. Sorry, I couldn’t help it.

abupundit on July 12, 2012 at 2:17 PM
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Not only not read, but if I remember correctly, illiterate refers to reading and writing. A sign for an illiterate doesn’t say much about the person commissioning the sign, or the producer of the sign.

If the parents are not literate, there is no justification in pointing a finger at them, that ship has sailed. Ignorance does not always breed ignorance, but it certainly does not help.

If a parent cannot help the child with reading or writing, they certainly make sure they make it to school. At least make sure the children have the one free chance, they are ever going to get, to break free from the ignorance of their environment.

Look to the teachers and teachers unions, that is more than likely the culprit. Kids in poor schools and neighborhoods can learn to read and write, first they need the tools and teachers to do so.

Jeanie

NEWRIVERELECTRIC on July 12, 2012 at 4:02 PM

There is no enumerated “right” to be forced to learn to read, even if you’re an ignorant dopehead living on the edge of a defunct city in a school system run by uncaring creeps that call themselves teachers and are merely there to babysit for a few hours a day until they reach tenured status so they can stay home and collect a paycheck for doing nothing.at.all.

I don’t know if grade school teachers can be or are tenured after a while, doesn’t matter. The crux of the matter is that they aren’t doing their job of actually TEACHING in exchange for the taxpayer funded paycheck they get.

To me it’s not a “rights” issue, it’s a FRAUD issue, perpetrated by the teachers unions.

FIRE THEM.

Wolfmoon on July 12, 2012 at 4:04 PM

If the parent cannot read or write properly, how would they know?

DublOh7 on July 12, 2012 at 3:48 PM

Bullsh!t. Even illiterate parents can push their kids to study, whether they understand the homework or not. They can have them read the paper, etc… They can have the minister or church help. All sorts of avenues are open to them. You know we used to get lots of foreign immigrants who couldn’t speak a word of English but their kids became fluent English speakers immediately and did well in school – in English, which their parents couldn’t understand.

There’s no excuse, other than stupid people, a rancid, backward culture and parents who just don’t give a sh!t about their kids. That’s the whole story. It is this sort of culture that allows us to have a guy in the White House whose IQ hovers around 84 and is about the biggest idiot America has ever seen on the national scene. Retardation is rampant in America and it’s nurtured by many – many with race cards they pull every two seconds to cover up their own immense failures.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on July 12, 2012 at 4:05 PM

This is very ironic. My mother was a teacher. She constantly talked about how groups like the ACLU made it impossible to do her job. If the schools suck, then it is the ACLU, teacher’s unions, and all the other bands of idiots who are the ones to blame.

bartbeast on July 12, 2012 at 4:22 PM

What if you can’t read the sign???

stenwin77 on July 12, 2012 at 4:24 PM

Without knowing more about this school district it is hard to tell where the problem stems from, but I can take an educated guess from the fact that it is a three school district. I have taught since 1976 at the elementary, middle and secondary levels in both regular classrooms and special education classroom, and specifically for here, as a high school remedial reading teacher.

There can be many factors that can result in a large number of students failing to learn to read, and I suspect math as well, and by consequence just about any subject that requires a level of reading comprehension on par with the grade level. There can be many reasons a student does not succeed in learning to read at the lower elementary grade. There can be home issues, parental issues, and incest. They may need special education or remedial reading, but if the district cannot afford those programs, they insure that there are no identified students. There can be physical or neurological reasons, such as lazy eye. I encounter one six year old girl with this condition in an ARD. No one had bothered check for why she was failing to learn to read. It took me all of ten seconds to figure it out with a simple test done with a pencil. Unfortunately, I have worked with few colleagues that possessed the ability to ask why a student was not able to read and more importantly, find a way to make it possible for them to read.

Skills that are taught at one level are usually assumed learned at the next level, which then proceeds to teach a new level of skills. If you don’t know what you need to learn what is being taught now, you are not going to learn much. For the poor readers this get compounded with each new level until there is no hope and they give up.

When a student is unable to perform as well as their peers it creates a self esteem issue. Often the coping mechanism is to distract and disrupt to prevent anyone from learning their secret.
One of the most frequent ways that a student with an inability to read hides that fact is by becoming disruptive, a class clown in an effort to be popular, or they can with draw and refuse to participate. What they almost never do is let their peer know they cannot read.

With so many cited in a small school system I would expect that class discipline was lost long ago. It is probable that the only teachers they can attract are the least prepared to deal with that issue and the same probably for the principals. On the district level, they usually take care of each other. Teachers often get the blame for failures, but the truth is if the teachers are not supported by the administration, if they are told to handle it themselves and warned not to have too many failures since that reflects badly on administrators, the classrooms; teachers and students, fail.

The solution is simple, but not very agreeable to the administration of schools. First no teacher should be held accountable for the failure of a student to learn to read before the third grade. They should only be held accountable if over all they fail to teach at an acceptable level. Hold the principal accountable for students learning to read beginning at the end of the first year. Most students now start reading in Kindergarten. If they are not on reading level by the third grade, they are not promoted unless it has been shown there is a clear reason and it is being addressed. If the administrator fails they should be required to obtain additional training themselves. As said this puts the shoe they throw at the teacher back on the foot of the educator who actually has the power to change the situation, but they will not like that.

Franklyn on July 12, 2012 at 4:26 PM

My kids are in a top school district. I saw a graph that showed 50% of the students who are at grade level are not making typical growth. Entire administrative team was unsure whether that was an acceptable rate or not.

They did not question whether the books in the library were appropriate for the reading level of the students, they didn’t question whether the school was teaching kids to their full potential – just that they were making grade level.

The basic questions that any business person would ask about their company, product and strategy were like a foreign language to this roomful of Ed PhDs.

Daisy_WI on July 12, 2012 at 4:31 PM

I have a right to more muscular pecs, and I demand justice.

Who wants these moobs?

connertown on July 12, 2012 at 4:32 PM

The “…adults charged with the care of these children” are the parents of these children. The parents are ultimately responsible for the education and care of their children. You cannot delegate this to the city or state and expect good results. Schools can be benificial, but it remains the responsibility of the parents.

bob4096 on July 12, 2012 at 2:13 PM

This. How dare “Quentin’s” mother lay blame elsewhere. HOW DARE SHE!!! She has abdicated her responsibility as a parent and she has failed her child. If literacy is a “right,” let’s start taking children away from their parents (along with the welfare checks that come with those children) if they cannot read by 3rd grade. Do that, and something tells me all the mothers of all the “Quentins” out there will figure out that they have a job to do — it’s called parenting. I am steaming mad that the mother of 14-year-old who cannot read would have the NERVE to blame others. She should be hanging her head in SHAME. Could someone please explain to me just what in the hell Quentin’s mother’s role is in his life? What is her purpose to him? What is she providing him? What, besides the act of child birth, makes her his “parent”? That our culture has come to a point where she is seen as a victim instead of the useless, neglectful non-parent that she is ensures that we will have many, many more “Quentins” to come. Put me on the jury. I dare ya. Put me on it.

Rational Thought on July 12, 2012 at 4:48 PM

It went to the teachers union, Ed. Wake up!

JPeterman on July 12, 2012 at 2:07 PM

While partially true the problem with the per pupil payments is that it is filtered through the following steps
1. State Departments of Education take their administrative cuts
2. County Departments of Education take their administrative cuts
3. District Offices take their administrative cuts
Finally
4. Schools get what is left.

chemman on July 12, 2012 at 4:48 PM

“Rights” You Do Not Have

http://predicthistunpredictpast.blogspot.com/2012/04/rights-you-do-not-have.html

M2RB: Chris Brown

Resist We Much on July 12, 2012 at 4:49 PM

You have the right to become literate. Doing otherwise may be held against you:

Click! School too easy for kids:

http://img.gawkerassets.com/img/17slwup6pbl9njpg/xlarge.jpg

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign.

notta_dhimmi on July 12, 2012 at 4:51 PM

You have the right to become literate. Doing otherwise may be held against you:

Click! School too easy for kids:

http://img.gawkerassets.com/img/17slwup6pbl9njpg/xlarge.jpg

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign.

Forgot the story link.

Today’s link, no less!

http://gawker.com/wndu/

notta_dhimmi on July 12, 2012 at 4:52 PM

Illiterate? Write for Help!

The front picture is sorta funny.

sharrukin on July 12, 2012 at 2:50 PM

The ad campaign was put together by the same company that did those radio ads for the deaf.

Rod on July 12, 2012 at 4:55 PM

Rational Thought on July 12, 2012 at 4:48 PM

You are correct. But there is a big problem. Since my children, who were born in 72, 73, went to school the schools and teachers have been saying leave your kids education to us and we’ll take care of it. (My wife and I rejected that) Far to many parents placed their trust where trust wasn’t earned. As a result we have a number of generations of kids who didn’t become literate.

I taught high school chemistry for a quarter of a century in low-socioeconomic southern California school districts. The average reading level in my 11th grade classes was 5.5 with the vast majority between 3 and 4. The only reason for the 5.5 was the 6 or so out of 36 that actually read at or above grade level. Those 6 were usually the white students in the class. (I hate to frame it that way but it was the reality)

chemman on July 12, 2012 at 4:56 PM

We have freedom of the press. That doesn’t mean you have the right to demand a printing press from anyone, individually or collectively.

We have the freedom to keep and bear arms. Doesn’t mean anyone’s buying you a rifle.

We have the freedom to be secure in our papers and houses. You don’t even have the right to demand a scrap of paper, much less a house.

Do we see where this is headed?

JohnGalt23 on July 12, 2012 at 5:04 PM

No, there is no right to literacy.

Literacy requires a student to make an effort to learn. A student can only be offered the opportunity to learn. It is impossible to teach a kid who refuses to learn, especially when the parents don’t do whatever they have to do to motivate little Johnny or Jenny.

Which is why dumping more and more trillions of dollars into education does little or no good. It is justified in the interest of trying to “motivate” little Johnny and Jenny to learn, in making it somehow easier for them to learn than it has ever been for any kid who has ever lived, and in overcoming every excuse there ever was and ever will be for not learning the basics.

farsighted on July 12, 2012 at 5:05 PM

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