Prominent Lawyers Sue California Because of “Literacy Crisis”

California Department of Education is on the receiving end following a decision by some prominent lawyers to sue the state in what they term as “literacy crisis.” The lawyers, drawn from two law firms: Public Counsel and Morrison & Foerster, will be representing former teachers, current teachers, and students from over 11 underperforming schools in the Golden State. Mark Rosenbaum, an advocate with the Public Counsel, is convinced that California is doing a disservice to the U.S regarding literacy and basic education.
The lawsuit stems from a state assessment which revealed unacceptable statistics about literacy. The assessment concluded that only a few students—less than half—in elementary school had satisfied California’s literacy standards since three years ago. And it is not only students in traditional schools that are lagging behind, but also those in charter schools. In one school, La Salle Avenue Elementary School in Los Angeles, the assessment established that slightly over four percent of students were proficient in both English and math. A whopping 96 percent was nothing to write home about.
One student, Katie T, and a former teacher, David Moch, at La Salle are among the plaintiffs in the suit. When she was done with fifth grade, Katie T’s reading level was comparable to that of a student in third grade. Moch is likely to be an asset to the suit; he taught at La Salle for 18 years, and his testimony that he had to contend with fifth graders sent to his kindergarten class in an attempt to improve their literacy skills may influence the court. Moch further stated that he and other teachers were not taught how to handle the situation. To add insult to injury, some programs that bore fruits were abolished, according to Moch.
Bill Ainsworth, a spokesperson for the Department of Education, declined to talk about the lawsuit claiming that they had not been formally served. In an email to the Associated Press, Ainsworth was categorical that the Golden State had a well laid out program dedicated to low-income students. He confirmed that California spends 10 billion dollars every academic year to assist foster children and other students seen to be disadvantaged. Among the schools to receive additional support in the coming year is La Salle. Two other schools named in the lawsuit, Children of Promise Preparatory Academy and Van Buren Elementary School will benefit from California’s intervention in the coming year.

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