More breaking edu-news today!
Today the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court affirmed their decision to reject a lawsuit filed by five students attending low performing schools who want to attend charter schools. From State House News Service:
“We conclude that they have failed to state a claim under the education clause because, to state a claim, the plaintiffs would need to plead facts suggesting not only that they have been deprived of an adequate education but also that the defendants have failed to fulfil their constitutionally prescribed duty to educate,” the court ruled. “Here, the plaintiffs have fulfilled the former but not the latter condition.”
The problem is, our children have a constitutionally protected right to an adequate education — and if our children are being forced to attend schools that are underperforming, it seems pretty clear that their constitutional rights are being violated.
And the while SJC admits the plaintiffs proved that kids are being underserved, they argued they haven’t made the case that the Commonwealth’s public education plan won’t improve the schools over time.
“The court further stated that the plaintiffs “have not alleged any facts to support a claim that the Commonwealth’s public education plan does not provide reasonable assurance of improvements for their schools’ performance over a reasonable period of time.”
This logic just doesn’t make sense.
Parents, many of whom have already been failed themselves by the same public schools that are currently failing their children, are supposed to prove that the Commonwealth doesn’t plan to improve them over time?
How do you do that exactly? Can you prove whether people don’t plan on doing something? Our achievement gap in Massachusetts is atrocious and embarrassing and has been for generations. I have yet to see a solid plan for addressing it in any substantive way. Parents should have an expectation that suddenly this is going to change because … ?
And over what period of time exactly? Parents get roughly about 12 years to get their kids an adequate education — so are we just supposed to roll the dice and hope the Commonwealth is able to figure this out?
Where do we go to get 4th grade back if they don’t end up doing anything?
That’s one hell of a gamble.
As a parent, I should have the right to choose the educational experience I want my child to have. My oldest child attends a district school and that’s the right place for him to be. My youngest two would thrive in a charter school setting, which is why I opted to sign them up for the lottery. Now we’re trapped in the uncertainty of charter school wait list purgatory.
The court went on to accuse the plaintiffs of just trying to challenge the will of voters who said no to expanding charter schools in 2016.
“Where a statute does not use a suspect classification or burden a fundamental right, is supported by a rational basis, and does not otherwise violate the Constitution, advocates may not turn to the courts merely because they are unsatisfied with the results of the political process.”
The idea behind this lawsuit doesn’t seem to be about trying to override the will of voters, but instead whether the constitutional rights of children should be decided at the ballot box. We don’t put other constitutional rights on the ballot, so why would we put this one?