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Posted under: News Education

Seven Detroit Students Are Suing The Government Because They're Tired Of Receiving A Lackluster Education

If you can't read or write, how are you supposed to survive in the real world?

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Seven students in Detroit have filed a class-action suit against the state of Michigan because they feel they’ve been denied a basic necessity that all Americans should have: an education.

The Atlantic reports that the case, Gary B. v. Snyder, is attempting to cite the Constitution to give the argument the weight it deserves. And rightfully so. The seven students filing the suit contend they're barely receiving an education because the quality is low, and little funding isn’t making it any better.

In the complaint, the plaintiffs state that students of Detroit’s public schools, of which a staggering 97 percent are of color, aren’t able to exercise fundamental constitutional rights because many of them perform below grade level when it comes to simple reading and writing. Without those necessary skills, one is not able to function and flourish in society, and are more easily subjected to discrimination.

Unfortunately, Gary B. v. Snyder seems like it’s going to be a hard one to win. Stephen J. Murphy, Detroit’s district-court judge, dismissed the case last week after stating that too many insufficient claims were made in the suit and that he would need more guidance from the Supreme Court.

Adding to the complicated nature of it all, the Constitution doesn’t necessarily guarantee the right to an education, although the 14th Amendment requires that children living in a state with public school cannot be denied access. And even with that, it doesn’t state that the quality of the school has to be high.

The plaintiffs in the case argue that the level of education is so unacceptable that it is a violation of the Constitution. And Kristi Bowman, an education-law scholar at Michigan State University and co-writer of an amicus brief that supports the complaint, added, “If someone is functionally illiterate — unable to read at grade level — then how can we expect them to meaningfully engage in the rest of their explicit constitutional rights?”

The case is now headed to the federal appeals court in Cincinnati.

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Namon is a staff writer and editor, here at Blavity.