A historic agreement was reached today between the plaintiffs and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer in the Gary B. v. Whitmer literacy suit. The agreement will preserve a groundbreaking opinion by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals which held that a basic minimum education, including literacy, is a Constitutional right, and includes an immediate infusion of resources to improve literacy education for public school students in Detroit, with a long term commitment from Governor Whitmer to secure more funding.
“This is what the force of history looks like. Almost 66 years to the day that Brown v. Board of Education was decided, the Detroit community and Governor Whitmer forged a historic settlement recognizing the constitutional right of access to literacy,” said Mark Rosenbaum, Director of Public Counsel Opportunity Under Law. “By accepting the Court’s decision that a minimum basic education is a foundational requirement for full participation in our democracy, Governor Whitmer is acknowledging that no child should be denied his or her right to fully pursue the American Dream based on the color of their skin or their family’s income. While there is much work left to be done, today’s settlement paves the way for the State of Michigan to fulfill its moral obligation to provide equal educational opportunities to children that have been denied a fair shake for far too long. This victory is their victory, and in this moment the children and their families and the teachers of Detroit have taught a nation what it means to fight for justice and win.”
The State of Michigan has reached a settlement with a group of Detroit Public School students who argued they were denied basic literary skills and won a landmark federal appeals court ruling last month that found a “basic minimum education to be a fundamental right.”
As part of the settlement details announced Thursday afternoon, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she would:
- Propose legislation before her first term ends that would provide Detroit Public Schools with at least $94.4 million for literacy programs.
- Provide $280,000 to the seven students, some of whom are no longer in school, to participate in what the governor’s office called high-quality literacy programs with the funds held for that purpose by the Detroit Public Schools Foundation.
- Send an additional $2.7 million to Detroit schools to support literacy efforts.Have the state Department of Education advise school districts across the state on how best to access literacy programs to improve reading proficiency and reduce economic, racial and ethnic disparities.
HUGE. The Sixth Circuit Court of appeals has confirmed that students have a basic right literacy under the U.S. Constitution—and that Detroit children have plausibly alleged they were denied that right.
I’m beyond proud to have filed a brief for the @CityofDetroit in this case.
— Eli Savit (@EliNSavit) April 23, 2020
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