WASHINGTON—Statement of American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and AFT Michigan President David Hecker on the organizations’ co-filing of an amicus brief in the case of Gary B. v. Snyder, requesting that the ruling of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, which stated that children have no fundamental right of access to literacy, be reversed:
“Every school day in Michigan and across the United States, educators enter their classrooms to teach kids the critical skills they need to succeed in the world. But educators in Detroit public schools barely have the books and supplies they need to get that job done, because their state’s outgoing governor and Legislature failed to provide the city’s public schools with the resources they need so teachers can teach reading at grade level. Detroit’s kids have suffered because of these choices, and that’s what is at the heart of this lawsuit.
“The state failed Michigan’s kids by perpetuating the Betsy DeVos model of systemic underinvestment in public schools in favor of privatization. And when the results showed that kids were struggling, the state didn’t own up to its role in neglecting Detroit’s schools. At its core, this case determines whether children in Detroit and throughout the state of Michigan are provided with the opportunity to become literate citizens, and whether their teachers can access the tools they need to help them get there.
“Our amicus brief describes what educators need to do their jobs effectively, and shows that we’re willing to fight for the tools we need to teach our kids. We work to make schools better and give teachers the resources and latitude to teach their lessons in safe buildings, with adequate heat and clean water, and high-quality, grade-appropriate instruction materials.”
“When the state neglected to fund its public schools, Detroit’s teachers reached into their own pockets and set up crowdfunded donor websites to buy books and supplies for their classrooms. These teachers know their kids have just as much intellectual capacity to learn as the students of any other school district in Michigan, but what they lack is the investment from their government—so the teachers filled in the gaps.
“It is 2018 in the United States of America—no one should be forced to go to court to beg for literacy to be a right. Detroit students deserve the same opportunities as every other student in Michigan and across this country."