A settlement has been reached in the landmark "right to read" case, recently revived by a federal appeals court after an earlier dismissal. The settlement terms call for millions more in funding literacy programs in Detroit Public Schools.
The plaintiffs, a group of Detroit schoolchildren, contended the state of Michigan was depriving some Michigan schoolchildren of a fundamental right to literacy by allowing the city's schools to fall into such disrepair that learning was effectively impossible. A lower court in Michigan had dismissed it, but was reversed by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last month.
Whitmer replaced former Gov. Rick Snyder as the main defendant in the case, following her election in 2018.
The terms of the settlement, released today, are as follows, according to a statement from the governor's office:
Proposed legislation: The Governor agrees to propose legislation during her first term that would provide Detroit Public School Community District (DPSCD) with at least $94.4 million of funding for literacy-related programs and initiatives.
Financial payment: The state agreed today to provide $280,000 to be shared among the seven individual student-plaintiffs to access a high-quality literacy program or otherwise further their education. These funds will be held in trust by the Detroit Public Schools Foundation for the student-plaintiffs. The state also agrees to provide $2.72m to be paid to DPSCD to fund various literacy-related supports.
Guidance on evidence-based literacy strategies: The Governor will request the Michigan Department of Education to advise school districts throughout the state as to how they might use evidence-based literacy strategies, initiatives, and programs to improve access to literacy and literacy proficiency, with special attention to reducing class, racial, and ethnic disparities.
Recommendations from task forces: The governor will receive recommendations from two Detroit-based tasks forces that will be created to help ensure a quality education for students:
► The Detroit Literacy Equity Task Force will be created outside of state government to conduct yearly evaluations around literacy in Detroit and will provide state-level policy recommendations to the governor. This task force will include students, parents, literacy experts, teachers, a paraprofessional, and other community members.
► The Detroit Educational Policy Committee will focus on the stability and quality of the overall educational ecosystem in Detroit; the accessibility of a quality school to all children in Detroit; and school improvement, facilities, teaching, and educational materials. The governor will either create this advisory body or recognize an already existing body to perform this function.
Jamarria Hall, part of the class of plaintiffs in the case, said in the statement: “Today, I’m overwhelmed with joy for the opportunities this settlement opens up for students in Detroit. Starting this journey four years ago parents and students knew we wanted a better education, and now to really be heard for the first time means everything.”