Federal judge rules Detroit children have no 'fundamental right' to literacy
School students reading from a book (Shutterstock)

A federal judge said last week that children have no fundamental right to learn to read and write in the United States.


In a 40-page opinion on Friday, U.S. District Judge Stephen Murphy III ruled against Detroit students who wanted to hold state officials accountable for what their attorneys said were systemic failures in teaching literacy.

The judge acknowledged in his opinion that illiteracy is damaging to people and society.

"Plainly, literacy — and the opportunity to obtain it — is of incalculable importance," Murphy wrote. "As plaintiffs point out, voting, participating meaningfully in civic life, and accessing justice require some measure of literacy."

However, Murphy argued that impact of illiteracy does "not necessarily make access to literacy a fundamental right."

"I'm shocked," Detroit Federation of Teachers President Ivy Bailey told The Detroit Free Press. "The message that it sends is that education is not important. And it sends the message that we don't care if you're literate or not."