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A Right To Literacy Will Be An Uphill Battle In Lansing

Erin Kelly

Some Democrats in the state House want to make literacy a constitutional right.  But not everyone is on board.   

Democrats say the state is not doing enough to defend the rights of children to read – so it should be in the state Constitution.  

Representative Darrin Camilleri is a bill sponsor.  He said literacy deserves to be a right for every child because, “Literacy is the fundamental component to accessing all of the other subjects that a student learns in school.”  But Republicans in favor of more local control said this bill won’t go very far. 

Republican Representative Tim Kelly is the chair of the House Committee on Education Reform.  He said the bill, “won’t see light of day.”  “Don’t come, you know, whining to the state that somehow this ought to be enshrined in the state constitution,” he said.  “Yes, it ought to be enshrined that we should educate all kids, but the delivery service is local, not state.  So do your job locally.”

Representative Sherry Gay-Dagnogo said that the state needs to take responsibility for the literacy of its kids.  “Children should not pay for what adults are not doing,” she said.  “All children have a right to read and we as statesmen, stateswomen have to fight and advocate that through red and blue – that’s why I’m wearin’ ‘em both -  and ensure that our children will be able to read.”

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—Cheyna Roth is a reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org

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