Opinion: Literacy is the civil rights issue of our time

By Imani Foster

January 29, 2024

Parents, Students, Educators Demand Evidence-Based Instruction and Culturally Responsive Curriculum

From outdated reading instruction to the banning of books, our state is failing to give our students a culturally relevant, well-rounded education that prepares them for successful lives. 482 Forward stands with the Michigan Education Justice Coalition in our belief that all children deserve to experience the joy of reading and to have the freedom to learn. On February 1st, the first day of Black History Month, MEJC will launch a statewide virtual celebration of literacy as a call to action to demand improvements and safeguards for all students across the state.

We’re all sick of hearing that Michigan’s reading scores have only gotten worse in the past two decades. But the reality is that other states have seen significant improvement; while only half of Michigan’s third-graders are reading and writing at grade-level. We can’t keep letting decision-makers blame our kids when it’s clear our students are not getting the support they need to succeed.

Not only are children struggling to learn to read, but many students do not see themselves represented in their classroom books or general curriculum. What’s more, there has been a concerted effort to deprive schools of books depicting LGTBQ+ characters and an overt attempt to whitewash our nation’s history.

We must come together to demand evidence-based reading instruction, support culturally responsive curriculum, and to push back against threats to limit inclusive curriculum. Our students deserve to receive an education that tells the whole story and introduces them to new ideas and cultures.

Imagine a future where all of Michigan’s students have everything they need to succeed in school. Where every child, no matter where they live, what color they are, or their background could connect with books in which they see themselves and their cultures represented. We must support – and adequately fund – our public schools so that our children can experience the joy of reading books that impart honesty about who we are, integrity in how we treat others, and freedom to pursue our dreams. Our children deserve the foundation for success: the ability to read.

Join us on February 1st at 6:30 to demand that all Michigan children have the Right To Read!

The Michigan Education Justice Coalition is a statewide network committed to advocating for equitable public education policies and funding to create safe and healthy learning environments. We envision a Michigan where public schools get the support they need, strengthening communities and making them better places to live for all of us.

482forward is an education organizing coalition creating a Detroit where every student graduates ready to become a fully engaged participant in the world, equipped with the character and the capacity to negotiate their environment and change it for the better. We are a member-based organization made up of parents, students, teachers and other community partners. This year, we want to hear from Detroiters about their experience with Detroit schools. If you’d like to learn more, signup here for a one-on-one with one of our community organizers.


  • Imani Foster

    Imani Foster is a native Detroiter who started her career in activism when she was 16 years old, fighting for education justice in Detroit and continues that fight at 482Forward, an education justice organization, as the organization’s communications director.



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