Jill Tucker, San Francisco Chronicle, July 13, 2010
A coalition of grassroots groups and families filed a lawsuit against the state Monday seeking to have California’s educational system declared unconstitutional for failing to adequately and equally fund schools.
Plaintiff attorneys say they want the court to require the Legislature and the governor to address unequal and inadequate conditions within the schools, disparate conditions that more often affect low-income and minority students.
“We have to sue. Not only are we losing teachers and seeing class sizes skyrocket, but districts are eliminating librarians, nurses, school psychologists, core courses in art, music, PE (physical education) and electives,” said Giselle Quezada of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, a plaintiff in the new case. “Support for our schools needs to be kept at the level required for a high-quality education, and not just during good economic times.”
The complaint alleges that the state’s funding system violates the legal requirement to not only provide California’s schoolchildren with a public education, but to fund schools before anything else. It also alleges the condition of schools violates the Constitution’s equal protection clauses, citing disparities across the state in things like teacher quality, class sizes and facilities.
In May, nine school districts, including San Francisco, filed a similar suit challenging how the state pays for its schools and questioning whether California provides enough money to educate all children equally. Both cases will be argued in Alameda County.