Monday, May 15, 2006

Educational Justice - Connecting CA's Valenzuela ruling re Exit Exams with the Williams [2004] and Brown [1954] cases

Nettie Hunt and her daughter, Nickie, sit on the steps of theU.S. Supreme Court in May 1954.Photo by Cass Gilbert/Bettman/Corbis
Wednesday, May 17th - Remembering the anniversary of the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education US Supreme Court decision, the historic 2004 CA Williams case and the Valuenzuela case, decided on Friday, which successfully halted the CAHSEE [CA HS Exit Exam], at least for this year.
The 2004 Williams case and last week's Valenzuela ruling expose the continuing lack of equal educational opportunities for African American, Chicano/Latino, English Learner and low income students throughout San Francisco, California and communities around the United States today.

San Francisco Unified School District Student plaintiff Eliezer Williams, 7th grader at Luther Burbank Middle School in San Francisco's Excelsior District, and his father Sweetie Williams, at an ACLU press conference in 2000. Eliezer's school was infested with vermin and roaches, two of the three bathrooms were locked all day, every day, and children were afraid to play in the gym because they are worried that the cracked ceiling tiles will fall on them during games.

On the 52nd Anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education US Supreme Court decision Youth Together and Asian and Pacific Islander Youth Promoting Advocacy and Leadership (AYPAL) youth and allies will bring educational inequity issues to the forefront. The youth and their organizations are holding an accountability meeting with State Administrator Randolph Ward who currently 'oversees' the Oakland public schools. Hundreds of Williams’ Settlement complaint forms have been collected and will be submitted to the School District to demand concrete changes in the Public Schools in Oakland. (4:15-5-30pm, Lincoln Recreational Center, 250 10th St., Oakland. Free). More info.

In 2004 Liz Guillen of Public Advocates summarized the Williams case:
The most significant legislation aimed at closing the education opportunity gap was passed in the final days of the 2003-04 legislative session when the California Senate and Assembly passed four bills to fulfill the settlement in the Williams v. State lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed over four years ago, on the Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. The plaintiffs are Eliezer Williams and over a million other students trapped in the worst schools with no chance to meet the State’s standards because their schools do not provide basic tools such as textbooks and trained teachers, and their school buildings are overcrowded, dilapidated, filthy and unhealthy. The State spent nearly $20 million to defend and delay the lawsuit, but on August 13, [CA] Governor Schwarzenegger acknowledged that it is ultimately the
State’s responsibility to ensure basic equality in learning conditions. On August 27, the Legislature passed SB 550, SB 6, AB 1550 and AB 3001, defining standards for textbooks, teachers and facilities, establishing an accountability system to make sure schools provide these basic necessities, and providing new money to back it up.
For more on the significance of the Brown case and social movements for educational justice -
NEA resources

For more information about the Williams settlement or the legislation, contact Liz Guillen at (916) 442-3385, or John Affeldt and Jenny Pearlman at (416) 431-7430 at Public Advocates, Inc. See our website at For a copy of the legislation, go to, click on Bill Information and enter the bill number.

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