Press Release

AFT President and Michigan Leaders on Legal Victory for Detroit’s Students

For Release: 

Friday, April 24, 2020

DETROIT—Statement by American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, AFT Michigan President David Hecker and Detroit Federation of Teachers President Terrence Martin, following the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that Detroit students have a fundamental right to access to literacy and that “without the literacy provided by a basic minimum education, it is impossible to participate in our democracy”:


Weingarten said:


“While it should be self-evident that the right to literacy should be a bedrock principle to enable students to participate in our democracy, it is wonderful that the court found it constitutionally foundational. We have always believed that every child, regardless of geography or demography, has a fundamental right to a basic promise for their future—that they have the right to dream dreams and have those dreams realized. With this decision, that basic right is recognized for the children of Detroit and across Michigan.


“For years, educators have sounded the alarm that children’s futures should not be forsaken, and we have fought for the resources, support and latitude educators need. Nowhere has that deficit been felt more starkly than in classrooms in Detroit, where the state’s former governor, Rick Snyder, and the Michigan Legislature failed the city’s public schools so egregiously that students had little access to the resources they needed to learn the basic reading skills required to perform at grade level. That is why we filed an amicus brief in Gary B. v. Snyder.


“Detroit’s kids have suffered because of these choices, and that’s what was at the heart of the court’s decision—a decision that says we must make good on the promise to educate every child.”



Hecker said:


“It is 2020 in the United States; adequate and equitable funding of our public schools should be automatic. That is why we filed an amicus brief in this case—because we know that if our educators and children can’t get the tools they need to succeed from our elected officials, we will fight for it in the courts. We have to take the court's decision that education and literacy are fundamental rights and make it reality. Today is one step toward a more equitable future for the public schools at the heart of our Michigan communities."


Martin said:


“Detroit’s children deserve better than underfunded and neglected public schools. This decision has gotten us closer to the goal line of a future where parents send their kids to Detroit’s schools and know they’re going to learn how to read at grade level, a fundamental and basic right that we owe it to them to meet.”

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.