Is Literacy a Basic Human Right?

August 15, 2018 | Welcome to the Morning Buzz, your data-infused dose of news and numbers at the intersection of religion, culture, and politics.
Are Schools Required to Teach Children How to Read?
Are schools required to teach children how to read? The question may seem simple to some, but under the eyes of the law, it can get murky. A court battle in Michigan, in which students from Detroit Public Schools argued that their constitutional rights had been violated by not being given proper learning resources, found that states are not required under the law to do such a thing. As Moira Balingit writes in The Washington Post,“Neither the words “school” nor “education” appear in the Constitution, and federal courts have largely shied from establishing a special right for children to receive an adequate education.” Attorneys in Michigan are now fighting for the distinction to be made under the law. Mark Rosenbaum, one of the lawyers representing the students says, “These children are being disenfranchised,…Children are not receiving the basic skills to participate in a democracy.” Whether literacy education is a basic right, has yet to be established in the courts. A similar suit has been filed in California, in which Rosenbaum and his colleagues argue that literacy is a fundamental human right. Eighty-two percent of students in Detroit Public Schools are African American, according to the Michigan Department of Education. A PRRI survey from 2017 showed that 74 percent of respondents believe ensuring all students have an equal opportunity to succeed was a critical right.
The Atlantic: The Church of Trump Thrives
In a recent piece for The Atlantic, Alex Wagner examines the core beliefs of Trump supporters, and how Trump’s rallies are akin to a religious gathering for some. Wagner lists off several of the bigger scandals of Trump’s presidency and finds fascination that his polling numbers among core supporters have remained consistent. Wagner writes, “Go to a Trump rally, speak to Trump supporters, and the devotion is nearly evangelical. Their party line is less a talking point than a sermon: His voters have talked to me about the “bad deal” with Iran, the “drug mules” crossing the border, the Mueller “witch hunt.” The language is uniform, as they quote chapter and verse. Here are the true believers: It is no surprise that Trump’s numbers won’t move.” PRRI’s most recent numbers show hat 73 percent of white evangelicals, among President Trump’s most loyal base, hold a favorable view of the president.
In Louisiana, a Push for Black American Sainthood
Of the eleven U.S. Catholics who have been canonized as saints within the Catholic church, none of them are black. Xavier University of Louisiana, the only historically Catholic black and black Catholic college in the United States, is looking to change that.“It takes quite some time to be able to gather the work that needs to be done,” Xavier President Reynold Verret said in a recent interview with HuffPost about the process. “We think we’ll be able to accelerate the work and move forward in a better way, with resources and time and effort. These things are precious, and we need more of them to move these cases forward.” Among the five individuals the school is campaigning for Julia Greeley, a freed slave who lived in Denver and was dubbed “Denver’s Angel of Charity.” Verret hopes that all Catholics, not just black Americans can contribute to the work and research needed to document lives worthy of sainthood. A 2016 PRRI surveyfound that only six percent of black Americans identify as Catholic.
Who Should Get Discrimination Protection?
Joanna Piacenza and Eli Yokley ask in a recent piece for Morning Consult which groups the government should protect from discrimination. Referring to the Religious Liberty Task Force created by the Justice Department, an effort that many are saying amounts to narrow protections for the religious, the authors  point out that this religious group currently makes up 71 percent of the country and 91 percent of Congress. However, feelings of discrimination are interpreted through partisan lens. The authors write, “Republicans, a group that is 73 percent white Christian according to nonpartisan research group PRRI, are more likely to say that Christians face discrimination than they are to say members of the LGBT community do (37 percent versus 26 percent) according to a June poll from Morning Consult. In contrast, Democrats are more than four times as likely to say LGBT people face discrimination than they are to say Christians do.”
How Swim Caps Keep Black Women Out of Pools
The Atlantic featured a piece on swimming caps and their role in facilitating racial disparities when it comes to the sport. The article points out that while black people are less likely to be able to swim, there are reasons for that. These reasons include lack of representation in water sports, fear of drowning, a lack of affordable swim lessons, and less pool infrastructure to train in. What often goes overlooked, however, is that swim caps are not designed to maintain common hairstyles among black women. This creates an additional hurdle to the already long list of barriers facing black women and water sports.