Reading & Literacy Letter to the Editor

Literacy Is a Civil Right

July 17, 2018 1 min read

To the Editor:

I read with interest the article in Education Week where the court ruled in Gary B. v. Snyder that the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee literacy (Curriculum Matters blog, edweek.org, July 2, 2018). I am the founder of Right to Read-Maryland, a coalition of educators and organizations who have the common goal of improving teacher preparation as it specifically relates to reading skills acquisition for all. We believe that literacy is a civil right.

Our Declaration of Independence guaranteed the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” In 1776, the common meaning of happiness was prosperity, thriving, and well-being. According to Aristotle, happiness is the final end, how well you have lived up to your potential as a human being. If we accept these definitions of “happiness,” we can argue that literacy is a right because without being able to read, one cannot thrive or reach one’s potential in life.

There is a crisis in literacy in the United States, as evidenced by scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. In 2000, the National Reading Panel recommended practices for effective reading instruction after the completion of over 100,000 research studies. The fact that many of our institutions of higher education are still not teaching this information with fidelity is outrageous.

Every state should require a rigorous test of evidence-based foundations of reading as a requirement for certification of all elementary teachers reading specialists, and special education teachers. We need to awaken our citizens to the need for meaningful action, which is long overdue.

Barbara Donick


Right to Read-Maryland

Baltimore, Md.

A version of this article appeared in the July 18, 2018 edition of Education Week as Literacy Is a Civil Right


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Classroom Technology Webinar
Educator-Driven EdTech Design: Help Shape the Future of Classroom Technology
Join us for a collaborative workshop where you will get a live demo of GoGuardian Teacher, including seamless new integrations with Google Classroom, and participate in an interactive design exercise building a feature based on
Content provided by GoGuardian
School & District Management Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: What Did We Learn About Schooling Models This Year?
After a year of living with the pandemic, what schooling models might we turn to as we look ahead to improve the student learning experience? Could year-round schooling be one of them? What about online
School & District Management Webinar What's Ahead for Hybrid Learning: Putting Best Practices in Motion
It’s safe to say hybrid learning—a mix of in-person and remote instruction that evolved quickly during the pandemic—is probably here to stay in K-12 education to some extent. That is the case even though increasing

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Reading & Literacy Whitepaper
Dr. Louisa Moats on Why Literacy PD Is Essential
In the white paper, Literacy PD: 10 Reasons Why It’s Essential, renowned literacy expert and author of LETRS® (Language Essentials for Te...
Content provided by Voyager Sopris Learning
Reading & Literacy Most States Fail to Measure Teachers' Knowledge of the 'Science of Reading,' Report Says
The majority of states don’t evaluate whether prospective teachers know how to teach reading effectively, a new analysis finds.
6 min read
Image shows two children ages 5 to 7 years old and a teacher, an African-American woman, holding a digital tablet up, showing it to the girl sitting next to her. They are all wearing masks, back to school during the COVID-19 pandemic, trying to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Reading & Literacy Opinion The Coming Literacy Crisis: There’s No Going Back to School as We Knew It
Many schools failed to properly teach reading long before the pandemic, write Comer Yates, Renée Boynton-Jarrett, and Maryanne Wolf.
Comer Yates, Renée Boynton-Jarrett & Maryanne Wolf
4 min read
Illustration shows boy of color holding a cage with floating star dust escaping from the cage into the open night sky.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Reading & Literacy Sponsor
How have students’ reading habits changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
Without a doubt, the average classroom looks more different now than ever before. With schools and districts across the nation engaging in a mix of remote, hybrid, and in-person learning, getting books into the hands of students can be difficult.
Content provided by Renaissance Learning