Creating a ‘Right to Literacy’ Won’t Ensure Children Learn to Read

The Daily Signal | 8/6/2018 | Staff
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Caroline Willcox is a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation.

Lindsey M. Burke researches and writes on federal and state education issues as the Will Skillman fellow in education policy at The Heritage Foundation. Read her research.

Solution - Reading - Outcomes - America

Is recognizing a “right to literacy” the solution to improved reading outcomes in America?

Groups in at least three states think so. There are currently lawsuits in Michigan, New Mexico, and California seeking to establish that school districts have violated a student’s “right to literacy” by providing inadequate learning conditions and insufficient school funding. The “right to literacy,” they argue, requires better conditions more funding.

Families - Outcomes - Children - Schools

Setting aside the supposed “right to literacy,” it’s understandable why these families are frustrated with the outcomes in their children’s assigned public schools.

According to the 2017 National Assessment of Education Progress, only 29 percent of California eighth-graders are at or above proficient in math, and 32 percent achieved that level in reading. Thirty-one percent of Michigan eighth-graders are proficient in math and 34 percent in reading. New Mexico scores even lower, with only 21 percent proficiency in math and 24 percent in reading.

Schools - ZIP - Code - Process - School

Public schools are assigned based on ZIP code, and the process of transferring to a school outside of one’s zoned area can be very difficult.

As it stands, all 50 states have compulsory attendance laws, meaning every child is required to attend school between the ages of six and 17 (with ages slightly varying by state). In most states, children must attend their assigned school unless their parents have the ability to homeschool them or pay private school tuition—in addition to paying taxes to support the government-assigned schools.

School - Attendance - Children - Schools - Incentive

Because school attendance is mandated, and because most children attend assigned public schools, any incentive for improvement on the part of the public system is mitigated.

This issue is particularly acute...
(Excerpt) Read more at: The Daily Signal
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