When we and other civil rights groups filed a lawsuit, Williams v. California, against the State of California in May, we brought to light the fact that many students in California lack the basic tools they need to learn, such as books, trained teachers, adequate space, and clean, well-maintained buildings. We hoped that this administration would recognize the failure of previous administrations to carry out these duties and would seek to remedy these failures.
Instead, we were met with stonewalling, resistance, and evasions. The state did not even want the case to proceed and argued essentially that it had no responsibility to the tens of thousands of children in public schools in California today who are denied the basic tools they need to learn - children predominantly from communities of color and from economically struggling communities. The state insisted on this position despite the fact that its own Constitution requires it to take such responsibility, that its courts have upheld that responsibility, and that its elected officials routinely promise to carry out statewide educational measures.
Today's ruling in Williams v. California defeats the state's claim that it is not ultimately responsible for assuring that all children enjoy equal educational opportunities. The ruling is a stinging rebuke to Governor Davis' attempts to fight the lawsuit that is seeking only to assure that no child in California go to school without textbooks, qualified teachers, and adequate facilities. We question why a governor who has asserted that his top three priorities are "Education, education, and education" would so strenuously resist this effort to examine the system's failures and insist they be fixed.
We can now proceed with our case and with the vital work of creating a system that's accountable to every child in California, a system that gives every child the tools she needs to learn.