Another Literacy Lawsuit: Is the Right to Read Constitutionally Guaranteed?

International Literacy Association Daily
Last week, a group of students, parents, and advocacy organizations (CADRE and Fathers & Families of San Joaquin) filed a class action lawsuit against California, alleging that the state is not fulfilling its constitutional duty to provide a basic education for every student. The plaintiffs are current and former students and teachers at La Salle Avenue Elementary School, Van Buren Elementary School, and the charter school Children of Promise Preparatory Academy—three of the lowest performing schools in the United States. The lawsuit points a finger at the state’s own recommendations to improve literacy, outlined in a 2012 report commissioned by the state superintendent and state board of education president. According to the civil action, the state has not adopted or implemented an adequate plan based on those suggestions, and therefore failed to intervene on behalf of low-performing students. Public Counsel filed a similar lawsuit on behalf of students in Detroit schools last year. These cases raises an overdue and important argument about the relationship of literacy to citizenship: “Is it possible to be a participating member of society without the ability to read and write?” If you asked Paul Boyd-Batstone, professor and chair of the Department of Teacher Education at California State University, Long Beach, he would answer with an emphatic “no.” He believes literacy is the common thread binding all curricular areas—when that thread starts to unravel, it disrupts all other learning.

Check out more of our selected reading news stories. Each weekday, we gather interesting news headlines about reading and early education. You can also sign up for our daily email service (or a weekly digest), to get the latest reading headlines sent directly to you.

"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." — Emilie Buchwald