Michigan Green Party candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor, Jennifer V. Kurland and Charin H. Davenport, renewed their campaign’s promise to provide all students in Michigan with the tools to succeed in a state economy that is diverse and complex. Fair and equitable funding of Michigan’s public schools is a cornerstone of their “Green New Deal for Michigan” that will ensure classroom teachers in high poverty districts will be equipped and empowered to give their students the same opportunities that exist in other districts.
Over the course of several decades, researchers have consistently reported that students are better able to learn in classrooms with new textbooks, up-to-date technology, a safe learning environment, and a lowered student-to-teacher ratio.
“Families and students in financially strapped school districts, such as Detroit and Flint, should not have to sue the state to receive a proper education, especially when researchers and educators universally agree on what works in the classroom,” said Davenport, who earned her Master’s in Secondary Education from the State University of New York. “Our administration’s focus will be on what works.”
In a class-action lawsuit filed by students in Detroit, a Federal District Court judge ruled that student access to literacy education is not a constitutional right. In essence, this ruling absolves the state of any responsibility of providing students access to literacy education and threatens to further undermine funding for underperforming schools. Michigan’s “Third Grade Reading Law” that requires school districts to hold back students not reading at grade-level proficiency in third grade goes into effect for the 2019-2020 school year.
“This ruling has given the state permission to wash its hands and walk away from the very districts it unconstitutionally placed under emergency management in the first place,” said Kurland, who serves on the Redford Union School Board. “As alarming as that is, far more disturbing is the fact that the Snyder Administration used state funds to defend this unethical position that Michigan has no obligation to teach literacy in our public schools.”
Michigan’s compulsory attendance laws require students to attend school even when their classrooms have no heat, no books, no technology, and sometimes no teachers. Such inequities make it nearly impossible for students to achieve the literacy they need for success in higher education and in the workforce.
“Properly funding public education is part of the state’s responsibility to its citizens, and is imperative to a thriving future economy. Providing literacy education, as a fundamental right, is the undeniable key to ensuring our children can prosper,” Kurland said.