I have long been a critic of the ACLU, often referring to them as the American Communist Lawyer’s Union or the Anti-Christian Lawyer’s Union. But every once in a while, they actually seem to do something right.
In one of those rare instances of doing something right, the ACLU has filed a class action lawsuit against the Highland Park School district and the state of Michigan for violating the ‘right to read’ of over 1,000 students. The lawsuit cites the Michigan Constitution that defines education as being an important function of the state government. The lawsuit also cites a Michigan state law which reads:
“A pupil who does not score satisfactorily on the 4th or 7th grade reading test shall be provided special assistance reasonably expected to enable the pupil to bring his or her reading skills to grade level within 12 months.”
Highland Park School District in the Detroit area consists primarily of black students. The latest testing revealed that about 66% of 4th graders, 75% of 7th graders and 90% of 12 graders of the district’s students are not proficient enough or fail the state’s reading standards.
S.D. is an 8th grade student in the district and is one of the plaintiffs in the case. He has attended the district’s schools since first grade and even though he has been allowed to progress into the 8th grade, his reading skills are only those of a 3rd grader. In the lawsuit, it states that S.D. has never received any remedial instruction or specialized assistance as mandated by state law.
Kary Moss, executive director of the ACLU in Michigan issued a written statement about the case in which he stated:
“A child who cannot read will be disenfranchised in our society and economy for a lifetime.”
In addition to facing charges over poor teaching performance, Highland Park School District is also facing an $11 million deficit and was recently placed under the oversight of a state appointed emergency manager. The district has 2 kindergarten through 8th grade schools and one high school. In searching for solutions to their financial problems as well as their quality shortfalls, they are looking at the possibility of finding someone with experience in running a charter school to take over.
While I commend the ACLU for taking action to help improve the educational standards in this school district, I don’t completely fault the school system for the failure. I believe a large part of the failure is due to today’s culture.
Schools are not allowed to force a child to learn. If a child is failing, they still have to promote them to the next grade so as not to hurt poor little Johnny’s self-esteem. Teachers are no longer allowed to punish students that don’t do their work and the students know it. In many cases, the teachers have been stripped of all of their tools that were once used to insure that a child got an education.
Secondly, the parents need to bear part of the blame. How much help do the kids get from the parents to help them learn? If their kids are failing, why aren’t the parents talking to the teachers to see what can be done?
Perhaps a large part of the parenting problem lies with the fact that of the 6200 households listed in Highland Park, only 17% of them are married couples still living together. In other words, over 80% of the households in the area are broken or dysfunctional homes. In many instances, there is less parental involvement in a child’s education when the home consists of only one parent.
The moral degradation of society and the family structure is all too evident in Highland Park and the results are affecting the next generation. Until these issues are addressed and reversed, the ACLU, Highland Park School District and the Michigan Department of Education are going to have a difficult time improving the reading skills of kids who just don’t care to learn, because nobody else cares about them either.