Rhode Island Students Do Their Homework, Sue State Over Lack of Civics Education

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A group of Rhode Island students who have done out-of-class homework are trying to get the court system to rule they have a right to receive a well-rounded education that includes civics.

Patriot Week Foundation reports the students filed the class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Rhode Island on November 28, 2018, against Gina Raimondo, governor of Rhode Island, and Rhode Island state representatives for an alleged failure to ensure they receive a good civics education. The students want a declaratory judgement about their rights. The Rhode Island Supreme Court twice refused to hear similar suits.

Thomas Goers of Patriot Week Foundation commends the students for taking the initiative, but questions the ability of the judicial system, under the U.S. Constitution, to make the change the students are seeking. Goers, however, says a federal lawsuit could bring the national attention needed to make a change.

CNN says of the lawsuit that Aleita Cook, age 17 and one of the 14 plaintiffs, told The New York Times that she never took any classes in government, civics or economics.

Also, Rhode Island has no civics requirement, no civics teachers training, and no state testing of civics, according to attorney Michael Rebell.

According to CNN:

“While I cannot comment on the specifics of pending litigation, I am supportive of efforts to secure more legal protections for student access to a quality education. Education rights are civil rights,” Rhode Island Commissioner Ken Wagner said in a statement.

The lawsuit documentation is available here.

In March of this year, Rhode Island officials responded that the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee a fundamental right to an education, the Providence Journal reported. The state asks that the lawsuit be dismissed.

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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.

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