In September of 2016 students in Detroit decided enough was enough. They filed a class action lawsuit against the State of Michigan declaring that their fundamental rights were being violated on the basis of race. In addition to being taught in classrooms filled with rodents, insects and mold, buildings with non-functioning A/C, and in some cases being taught by other students because teachers weren’t available, they had to contend with textbooks that were 20 years old and falling apart. They didn’t even have enough of those textbooks to go around. In the case 5 schools were listed, 3 public schools and 2 charter schools, each with horrible ratings representing the worst schools in the state. Going from a scale of 0 - 100 the schools are rated 1, 2, 4, and 6 with one of the schools being closed. Less than 5% of students scored proficient or above in the third grade of one school compared to 46% statewide. At another school, 12.5% of students scored proficient or above compared with 49.2% statewide both with regards to English proficiency.
The Schools lacked adequate teaching, with one of the schools going out and recruiting Latino children and telling them they would provide English instruction only to not have any teachers that could provide the service. Amidst all of this Governor Richard Snyder appointed Darnell Earley to administer the DPS Schools. This is significant because Darnell is largely blamed for the flint water crisis. It has to be mentioned that he claims that the plan to switch to Flint River was decided before he arrived and what fell to him was to carry out the plan. With all that in mind and after nearly 2 years of legal battles, Judge Stephen J. Murphy has made a ruling on the case.
In this episode of Lessons from the Screen, we will be going over that ruling as well as some of the details of the case itself. As always we will be giving some of the takeaways from this case. Stick around as we dig into Literacy, a Fundamental Right.
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