Thursday, May 20, 2010

Lawsuit Challenges California Unconstitutional Education Finance

Historic Lawsuit Challenges California’s Unconstitutional Education Finance System

A historic lawsuit was filed today against the State of California requesting that the current education finance system be declared unconstitutional and that the state be required to establish a school finance system that provides all students an equal opportunity to meet the academic goals set by the State.
The case, Robles-Wong, et al. v. State of California, was filed in the Superior Court of California in Alameda County. Specifically, the suit asks the court to compel the State to align its school finance system—its funding policies and mechanisms—with the educational program that the State has put in place. To do this, plaintiffs allege, the State must scrap its existing finance system; do the work to determine how much it actually costs to fund public education to meet the state’s own program requirements and the needs of California’s school children; and develop and implement a new finance system consistent with Constitutional requirements.
The lawsuit was filed by a broad coalition, including more than 60 individual students and their families, nine school districts from throughout the State, the California School Boards Association (CSBA), California State PTA, and the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA).
“Filing this lawsuit was a last resort,” said CSBA President Frank Pugh. “Education funding has been in a deteriorating spiral in California for decades. A failure to act now threatens the future of California’s students and the future of our state. The Governor and lawmakers have known for some time that the current school finance system is harming students and they’ve done nothing to remedy the crisis. The $17 billion in cuts to education have only made a dire situation even worse. California’s unstable, unsound and insufficient school finance system is robbing our students of an education.”
“This lawsuit seeks to ensure that the State, the Legislature and the Governor comply with the Constitution and fund and deliver the promised education program to all students in the state,” said Bill Abrams, a partner at the law firm of Bingham McCutchen and counsel for plaintiff students and families. “The Constitution requires that school funding ‘first be set apart’ to meet program demands, and provides that education is a fundamental right and must be made equally available to every child. Too often, this isn’t the case, and the State balances its budget on the backs of its students by cutting or underfunding education programs, and thus prevents schools from meeting its own education standards.”
California’s broken school finance system has undermined the ability of districts to educate our children by making no connection between what is expected of schools and students and the funding provided in order to meet those expectations.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Are California Schools failing students of color?

Students and Parent Groups Give Report Card on California Schools From 2000 – 2010

WHAT:    On the west steps of the California Capitol Building. students, parents, and allies will mount their defense of a public school system that has been under attack for the last decade.   Instead of receiving grades, theCampaign for Quality Education will instead grade California’s schools from 2000 – 2010.  Based on data, personal experience, and community surveys, the CQE will be grading California’s schools in the following categories:  Funding, Graduation Rates, College and Career Readiness, Teacher Quality, Facilities/Materials, and Accountability.

With the May California budget revise underway, students and parents from across California—Long Beach, Los Angeles, Orange County, the Central Valley, San Jose, San Francisco, and Oakland—will also speak out against the $17 billion cuts to education over the last two years, back legislation that supports accountability and revenue creation, and make delegation visits with their local legislators.  With immigrant students, low-income students, and students of color a majority of California’s schools, the CQE will stress that their needs are California’s needs.
This event is timed to coincide with Brown v. Board.  Fifty-six years after the landmark Supreme Court case was supposed to desegregate schools, California graduates less than 60% of its black and brown students from high school. 

WHEN:        Tuesday, May 11, 2010        10:30am    Speakout
                                                                1:00pm      Legislative Visits

WHERE:    State Capitol Building (West Steps), Capitol Avenue, L Street, Sacramento, CA 95814

WHY:    “We are beyond cuts to the education budget,” said Melia Franklin, Executive Director of Parent Leadership Action Network (PLAN).  “This is an amputation and California’s future will pay for this ‘Lost Generation’ for years to come.  We come as parents and students of color, the people most affected by this Crisis in Priorities, to defend education and include our voice in solving this crisis."

For more information or to join us, please call Paul Tran, Communications Director at Californians for Justice, at (562) 951-1015 or email him

Parents and school reform

By Kido
A funny thing happened on the way to education reform:  No one really talked to the parents.
That’s why this May 11, as the anniversary of Brown v. Board approaches, I’m going to Sacramento to speak to my elected officials, the people who are supposed to represent me and my children.
I’m going as part of the Parent Leadership Action Network (PLAN) and the Campaign for Quality Education (CQE).  And in a role reversal, we’re going to give California grades on its public school system over the last decade.  The theme for our visit is “M.I.A.:  California Ditching Schools from 2000 – 2010” and as expected the grades in Funding, Graduation Rates, and College and Career Readiness are failing.
As a parent of two students who went to school in Oakland and Berkeley, I’ve seen firsthand the decline of public schools.  In fact, from the implementation of the California High School Exit Exam in 2002 to the $17 billion in education cuts from 2008 – 2010 and a dozen other policies that have disproportionately and adversely affected students of color, you could call the last decade an attack on education.
From 2000 – 2010, as our schools became more diverse, California ditched schools.
At the ground level, I saw my children steered away from the A-G courses that would have allowed them to be eligible for college.  I saw counselors turn over often.  I saw a lack of janitors and filthy restrooms.
The statistics are staggering.  California graduates less than 57% of its black and brown students.  This is not a problem, this is a crisis:  We are creating a lost generation of black and brown young people.  I shudder to think what will happen to them and the communities they live in—incarceration, low-paying jobs, no health care.