Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Elizabeth Moje and colleagues submit amicus curiae brief in response to Detroit’s literacy lawsuit


Dean Elizabeth Birr Moje is the principal author of a brief written on behalf of Amici, a group of 68 leading scholars and administrators who work around the country in the fields of teacher education, educational policy, assessment, and literacy. Amici submitted their brief this week in support of an appeal to an ongoing court case known as the Detroit’s right to literacy lawsuit.

This federal lawsuit was filed more than two years ago, claiming that the conditions in Detroit schools are violating children’s civil rights. While a federal judge rejected the central claim of this suit, advocates such as Amici and civil rights experts are arguing in favor of the plaintiffs and pressing for the suit to continue its appeals process. Local advocacy groups and experts in education, law, and the economy filed more than a dozen supporting briefs this week. One of the briefs came from Detroit’s main school district, said the plaintiffs’ lawyer Mark Rosenbaum, which “confirms the allegations in the complaint, that the state was responsible, that the state dug a deep hole for this district to climb out of.”

In the brief, Dean Moje and her colleagues argue that Detroit children must contend with an education system that is separate and unequal. They asked the court to imagine “waking every morning to head off to buildings infested with rats and other vermin, piped through with lead-tainted water, with failing heating systems, only to sit in decrepit classrooms with no certified teachers and no books.” Amici contend that this substandard education is demonstrated by examining the learning opportunities, conditions, and outcomes of children and youth in Detroit.

“Such a situation does not model for Detroit’s youth their right to liberty or a commitment to the common good of all members of a society. Compelled to attend school, but consigned to at best inadequate learning environments, Detroit youth learn the opposite of what the Constitution’s framers intended about the core democratic values of United States society,” the brief says.

Read more about the court case here and here.
The brief, in full, appears here.

Elizabeth Birr Moje is George Herbert Mead Collegiate Professor of Education and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor; Dean of the School of Education

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