The Michigan ACLU has taken the unprecedented step of filing a class action lawsuit in July against the Highland Park School District, the state of Michigan, and other governmental entities for failing to teach the students in the Highland Park School District how to read. Kary Moss, executive director of the Michigan ACLU, said “This is not a pro or anti-charter case. . . This is not a pro or anti-teacher case. This is not a pro or anti-emergency manager case. This case, simply put, is about the right of children to read, a right guaranteed under the constitution and laws of this state.”
The ACLU has carefully jockeyed to buttress its argument that the right to read is a civil right for the students in Michigan. Although the ACLU acknowledges that state courts have not recognized education as a fundamental right granted by the Constitution, the ACLU points out that the Supreme Court has referred to education as “not merely some governmental benefit which is indistinguishable from other forms of social welfare legislation.” Additionally, the Michigan Supreme Court has declared that “education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments,” and the Michigan Constitution “imposes an obligation” on the state to offer a free public elementary and high school education.