ACLU Sues to Make Water Run Uphill


ACRU Staff


December 1, 2009

The ACLU has filed suit against Florida and several state officials because Palm Beach County schools do not have a graduation rate comparable to state or national averages. The filing of the suit assumes that neither parents nor students themselves have any influence on whether and how students receive the education which is offered in public schools. In seeking a roughly equal graduation rate without flunking students who do not do the work, the ACLU is asking a court to order that water should flow uphill.

Some of he facts for this article, but none of the legal conclusions, come from an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on 6 November. Most of the article concerns an ACLU suit against Florida and various state officials over the “low graduation rates” in Palm Beach County schools. The suit claims that these officials are “the state’s constitutional requirement that all students receive a ‘uniform, efficient, safe, secure and high quality’ free public education. The ACLU is not seeking any specific remedies, only that the school district improve its graduation rates without pushing students out of the system.”

The suit claims to have been filed on behalf of the students and parents in the Palm Beach County schools. There is exactly one way to accomplish the goal the ACLU states. It is to keep promoting students who have not done the work and achieved the knowledge of the class they are in, until the students are handed diplomas they cannot read.

Many school systems in the US, including the largest of all, the Los Angeles Unified School District, follow this process. A recent report on the L.A. system found that, under its own promotion criteria, one-third of all students should be held back the next year. Confronted by such a massive educational failure rate, the L.A. system downgraded its own standards for promotion.

The ACLU suit in Florida assumes that there are no differences between parents in their encouragement of their children to succeed. It assumes there are no differences among students in their discipline and dedication to learning in schools. Only by accepting these two obvious falsehoods as true, can the ACLU arrive at its conclusion that every school district in the state should have essentially the same graduation rates.

The Florida Constitution does require the state to provide a free and fair education to all students. It is silent, however, on how to get the students in the system to accept and benefit from that education at the same rate as all others. That is the missing but necessary element in the logic of this case.

To understand that the ACLU is asking the court to order water to flow uphill, consider the scene where Dorothy and her three companions finally come before the Wizard of Oz. The scarecrow’s problem was that he “did not have a brain.” The Wizard’s solution was to “give him a diploma.”

It seems that the lawyers for the ACLU are in the position of the scarecrow. They lack brains, but they do have diplomas. One can hope that the court will not only throw the lawsuit out, but charge attorneys fees and costs against the ACLU and its lawyers for bringing such patent nonsense before a court.

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