California sued over alleged failure to ensure children's literacy

California sued over alleged failure to ensure children's literacy
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California is being sued by a group of advocacy lawyers who allege the state isn’t doing enough to ensure the literacy of children.

Public Counsel, a California-based pro bono law firm, filed a lawsuit alongside law firm Morrison & Foerster in Los Angeles County Superior Court against the state’s board of education, its Department of Education and its state schools Superintendent Tom Torlakson, according to Education Week.

The lawsuit alleges that the state is not fulfilling its constitutional duty to children.

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"The state has long been aware of the urgency and the depth of the all-too-preventable literacy crisis, and yet it has not implemented a single targeted literacy program to remedy this crisis," said Mark Rosenbaum, director of Public Counsel’s opportunity under law division, according to Education Week.

National education data shows that California is one of 14 states the performed significantly lower than national averages on a 2015 reading assessment.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of current and former students and teachers at Los Angeles’s La Salle Elementary School; Stockton’s Van Buren Elementary School and Inglewood’s Children of Promise Preparatory Academy, according to the Los Angeles Times.

According to the newspaper, the suit uses La Salle as an example of the state failing to ensure students meet literacy goals. Of the 179 students who were tested in a recent English assessment, fewer than 10 scored high enough to meet state-established standards.

“This is in full view of the state,” Rosenbaum said, according to the newspaper. “They haven’t done anything in terms of working with the district or working with the school to address a problem that has … persisted year after year after year.”

The lawsuit seeks “proven literacy instruction, literacy assessments and interventions, support for teachers, and implementation of practices to promote parent involvement and learning readiness," according to Education Week.

Public Counsel filed a similar lawsuit on behalf of students in Detroit schools last year.