LOS ANGELES Today civil rights groups filed in the Superior Court of the State of California to expand Williams v. State of California, the landmark education lawsuit to ensure that all public education students in the state be provided with the bare minimum tools necessary for educational success. Since the lawsuit was filed in May, on the 46th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education , the ACLU has fielded hundreds of calls from parents, teachers, and students interested in getting involved in the case. Plaintiffs representing 28 new schools spanning the state from Watsonville to Long Beach have joined the case, bringing the total number of schools represented by named plaintiffs to 46.
"This case has become the centerpiece in a movement committed to realizing the promise of public education for all," said Ramona Ripston, Executive Director of the ACLU of Southern California. "The students, teachers, and parents who have participated in advancing this case are committed to making public education work in every community, for every child. Creating a truly equitable and sound public education system is one of the fundamental civil rights challenges we face today."
Students, parents, and teachers from the newly added schools, almost all of which serve communities of color, economically struggling communities, or immigrant communities, reported a long list of substandard conditions at their schools, including a lack of textbooks and basic instructional materials in core courses; shortages of trained, permanently assigned teachers; overcrowding and shortages of classroom spaces; unsafe and unsanitary school conditions; buildings in poor repair, and a host of other conditions that impede learning.
"For the children attending the nearly 150 schools named in the lawsuit," said Mark Rosenbaum, legal director of the ACLU of Southern California, "the three R's of education are too often rats, rot, and remiss."
"On the day the Democratic National Convention takes up the issue of education," said Rosenbaum, "the only response to the fierce realities disclosed in our suit from the California leaders who are charged with assuring that all children receive the bare essentials necessary to secure equal educational opportunity has been to dodge responsibility."
The suit is brought by the ACLU affiliates of California, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Public Advocates, Inc., Center for Law in the Public Interest, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, Morrison & Foerster LLP, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, Professors Karl Manheim and Alan Ides, Peter Edelman of the Georgetown University Law Center, and Robert Myers of Newman. Aronson. Vanaman.