During my first week with Detroit Public Schools, I learned about the landmark case in Detroit that theoretically would disrupt the current landscape of education. This was the lawsuit by previous high school students about the lack of good education access they were given due to the conditions of their underfunded neighborhood schools.
I was made aware of the Gary B vs Whitmer case when performing research on DPSCD’s website. On the front page included the announcement of the case and historic win for the students. The announcement spoke about reinventing the educational practices and environments– especially for low-income students – that had previously made it difficult for students to succeed. The announcement ended with a call to action for the state of Michigan to finally make progressive and visible change. This left me intrigued and I decided to learn more about this recently settled case. This New York Times article, as well as a transcript of the case, were the main things I found.
The article begins with the motivation of this lawsuit and how these students were not given access to quality education that detrimentally played an impact once they left their high school environments. The case highlights this problem as a 14th amendment violation as these students were “deprived of access to literacy” making it quite difficult for these students to function in society that readily demands this skill. While the students did win in the Court of Appeals, the article does highlight the tremendous burden they must have faced due to a previous court ruling that found equality within education to not be a constitutional right. When I first read this, I was honestly shocked. As a county that readily highlights continued education and innovation as key markers in its success, I was (somewhat) dumbfounded by this blatant statement from a supreme court case despite understanding this was very much true when discussing the issues of the United States’ educational system. Despite that preceding case’s statement about education, I found this case’s look into the fundamental issues that act as barriers to education for low-income students- lack of access to quality teachers, materials, cost maintenance, etc. – is imperative if we wish to discuss how access to education – quality education specifically – influences these students and the adults they become.