Can't Read, Can't Sue


Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent annually on public school education, yet millions of students who attend public schools are not even being taught how to read. Lawsuits have tried to force states to spend more on public education, but it’s obvious that the real problem is not a lack of money. It doesn’t cost much to teach someone how to read using phonics. Perhaps some politicians prefer an illiterate population that votes the way they’re told to vote on Election Day.

Michigan, like most states, fails to teach many students how to read in public school. But unlike many states, most of the funding for public schools in Michigan comes from the state rather than local governments. The Michigan Constitution requires that “the means of education shall forever be encouraged,” and establishes that “the Legislature shall maintain and support a system of free elementary and secondary schools.” The ACLU sued in state court, claiming that students receive an inadequate public education in violation of the Michigan Constitution. The Michigan Court of Appeals rejected the lawsuit and ruled that “the Michigan Constitution leaves the actual intricacies of the delivery of specific educational services to the local school districts.” The Court emphasized, “All that can properly be expected of the state is that it maintain and support a system of public schools that furnishes adequate educational services to all children.”

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The good news is that a Michigan appellate court has declined an invitation to engage in judicial activism, interpreting the Michigan Constitution narrowly. The bad news is that children will be stuck with failing scores on exams without any accountability for the public schools. The most important tasks of elementary school is to teach children to read.

Contributing Editor, Phyllis Schlafly, is the Founder and President of Eagle Forum, a national radio show host, and a best-selling author.

Used with the permission of Eagle Forum.