Editor's note

The U.S. Constitution doesn’t give kids the right to an education.

Whether they have such a right is an issue the Supreme Court has avoided for nearly four decades. But last Thursday, a federal appeals court found the teaching quality at five Detroit public schools inadequate, ruling that students had a right not just to attend school – but to learn to read while they were there. It was the nation’s first such federal ruling.

It’s too soon to know what the repercussions will be, explains Kristine Bowman, a Michigan State University scholar of the law and education policy. But, she adds, “no matter what happens next, the appeals court’s decision will remain groundbreaking.”

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Emily Schwartz Greco

Philanthropy + Nonprofits | Childhood + Parenting Editor

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The Supreme Court has long avoided weighing in on this question. Ariel Skelley / Getty Images

Kids have a right to a basic education, according to a new legal milestone

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A federal court with jurisdiction over Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee found that the state governments have a legal obligation to ensure that children can learn how to read.

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