The Christian Science Monitor

Rhode Island lawsuit: Students sue for the right to learn civics

Aleita Cook, a graduate of Providence public schools and the lead plaintiff in Cook (A.C.) v. Raimondo, spoke at a press conference following a hearing in federal court on Dec. 5, 2019, in Providence, Rhode Island. Source: Riley Robinson/The Christian Science Monitor

Last Thursday, the same morning that Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the U.S. House of Representatives would draft articles of impeachment, a federal judge began considering another matter with deep implications for the democracy: whether students have a constitutional right to an adequate public education to prepare them for civic life.

As lawyers argued over moving forward to trial, dozens of teenagers crammed the gallery of the U.S. District Court here, with lead plaintiff Aleita Cook, a recent graduate of a Providence high school, observing from one of the armchairs normally reserved for a jury.

Fourteen named plaintiffs – students and parents – filed the class-action lawsuit, Cook (A.C.) v. Raimondo, against Gov. Gina Raimondo and other state officials last year. It argues that Rhode Island violates students’ constitutional rights by leaving many of

Real life as civics lessonVaried state requirements

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