As Cruz-Guzman Lawsuit Advances, Parents and Community Members Speak Out on Potential Unintended Consequences for Students and Families of Color
Jul 25, 2018
By deciding today to send Cruz-Guzman v. State of Minnesota to trial, the Minnesota Supreme Court affirmed that claims alleging violations of the Education Clause of the Minnesota Constitution are justiciable—ensuring that Minnesotans can use the courts as a tool to defend their right to an adequate education. This sets an important and positive precedent. However many parents and advocates worry that this particular lawsuit could potentially undermine parents’ rights to pick a school for their child. Moreover, by linking adequacy to a school’s overall racial makeup, this lawsuit could distract from critical conversations about how we ensure students from diverse backgrounds are succeeding in our schools, including schools that are integrated on paper, but still home to disparate outcomes.
“The Court’s decision is bittersweet,” said Daniel Sellers, Executive Director of EdAllies. “The good news is that the Court has decided that it can play a role in determining whether the state is meeting its constitutional requirement to provide an adequate education to Minnesota children. But, the bad news is that the plaintiffs’ arguments in this particular case risk taking us in the wrong direction by undermining the choices of families of color, and schools designed to specifically serve their needs. To be clear: Today’s Court ruling was not on the merits of the Cruz-Guzman case. However, as this case proceeds to trial at the district court, it’s important to keep in mind that if we’re serious about closing Minnesota’s achievement and opportunity gaps, we need to protect—not take away—the right of families of color to make the best choices for their children.”
Local parents and community members will hold a press conference on Wednesday, July 25 at 12 p.m. at Friendship Academy (2600 E 38th St, Minneapolis, MN 55406) to discuss implications of the Minnesota Supreme Court’s decision to send Cruz-Guzman v. State of Minnesota to trial.
“Too many students of color in Minnesota are not getting the education they deserve,” said Tonya Draughn, of Uplift MN. “We won’t fix that by undermining parents of color and taking away schools that are serving their kids well. Instead, we need to empower families of color, and get serious about finding, protecting, and replicating what’s working for their children. This lawsuit is trying to move us in the wrong direction.”
Parent and advocate Khulia Pringle added: “Any so-called solution that takes away my power to choose the right school for my child isn’t a solution at all. Any so-called solution that forces my child into a school that looks integrated on paper, but that tracks white students and students of color into different opportunities and outcomes, isn’t a solution. And any so-called solution that takes away schools that are working for children like mine—far better than any other options they’ve had before—isn’t a solution.”
Pastor Marea Perry added: “If our state wants to get serious about closing achievement and opportunity gaps, we shouldn’t be going after schools that are working for kids of color. And we certainly shouldn’t be deciding which schools are working, and which schools are not, based solely on a school’s racial makeup. Instead, we need to focus on what’s happening for students of color inside that school. Are they learning? Are they succeeding? These are the questions that really matter to me as a parent, and that should really matter to our society and policymakers, too.”
For more information or interviews, contact EdAllies Strategic Communications Director Ariana Kiener: 612.666.3066 or firstname.lastname@example.org
About EdAllies: EdAllies partners with schools, families, and communities to ensure that every young Minnesotan has access to a rigorous and engaging education. We advance policies that put underserved students first, remove barriers facing successful schools and programs, and foster an inclusive conversation about what’s possible for students.