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Michigan Civil Rights Commission: We Must Ensure Educational Equity in Time of Crisis

March 20, 2020

LANSING, MI - Stacie Clayton, Chair of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission (the Commission), today issued a statement on the importance of ensuring equity in the effort to educate Michigan’s K-12 students during the COVID-19 public health crisis.

“As we work to educate our students in a time of crisis and uncertainty, we must do everything we can to ensure all students have the resources they need, regardless of their race, religion or ethnicity, any disability they may have or the zip code where they live,” said Clayton. “Every student needs direct access to educational materials and lesson plans, and we must ensure that the adults in their lives are provided with resource guides and the help they need to make use of them. Last November, the Commission unanimously passed a resolution declaring that a minimally effective education is a civil right. We must not allow this crisis, daunting as it is, to result in some falling short of realizing that right.”

In November of 2019, the Commission passed a resolution finding that public education is a civil rights issue. The resolution reads:

“While the Michigan Civil Rights Commission is continuing to develop conclusions and recommendations for our report on “Education Equity in Michigan,” we have determined it is appropriate for us to release this draft excerpt from the report at this time.  We do so because the question of whether education should be considered a civil right is hotly contested, so much so that it is at the root of present appellate litigation arising from a case involving the Detroit Public Schools.  We believe this issue is of enormous importance, and one on which we need to be heard now, rather than in two to four months when the full report will be final and available to the public.

“We therefore resolve that the Michigan Civil Rights Commission finds public education to be a civil rights issue, and a minimally effective education to be a civil right. 

“We further resolve to adopt and make publicly available the attached excerpt from the draft of what will be our report on “Education Equity in Michigan.”

For the full resolution, click here.

On March 18, the Education Trust-Midwest issued a letter outlining the way the COVID-19 crisis is illuminating disparities in our public education system.

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission was created by the Michigan Constitution to safeguard constitutional and legal guarantees against discrimination. The Commission is charged with investigating alleged discrimination against any person because of religion, race, color or national origin, sex, age, marital status, height, weight, arrest record, and physical and mental disability. The Michigan Department of Civil Rights serves as the operational arm of the Commission.

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