California Appeals Court Rules No Minimum Education Quality Guaranteed by State Constitution; Plaintiffs Vow Appeal
Contact: Isabel Alegria, firstname.lastname@example.org
San Francisco – Attorneys representing parents, students and community organizations suing the state for failing to provide California’s students with a quality education announced that they will appeal to the state Supreme Court a decision by the First District Court of Appeal today finding no constitutional guarantee of any level of educational quality or any minimum level of funding to support education. The decision affirmed the dismissal by a lower court of Campaign for Quality Education v. California (“CQE”) and a related companion case, Robles-Wong v. California.
“Plaintiffs categorically disagree with the court’s majority opinion that the right to education in California carries with it no guarantee of minimum quality,” said John Affeldt, lead counsel in the CQE lawsuit. “As our state Supreme Court has said on more than one occasion, the right to education is a fundamental right that ‘means more than access to a classroom.’ We will take plaintiffs’ appeal to the Supreme Court and we remain confident that we will ultimately prevail.”
Justice Stuart Pollak agreed with plaintiffs in a lengthy dissenting opinion that “the Constitution requires a system that provides students with a meaningful basic education in reality as well as on paper." Justice Pollak noted that a majority of other state supreme courts have found a right to an education of meaningful quality, and cited the California Supreme Court’s previous decisions holding that the constitutional education guarantee is one intended to enable students to graduate with the knowledge and skills needed to productively engage in our democratic and economic institutions.
Plaintiffs in the case pledged to continue fighting in the courts:
“As an organization of poor and working families, particularly in communities of color,” said Amy Schur of Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), “our members and their children live through this every day – schools that are under-staffed, with overcrowded classrooms, too few counselors, run-down facilities, and the list goes on. It’s time for the State of California to live up to their obligation to adequately fund our schools.”
“Right now, too many of our kids don’t get the education they deserve in our public schools because the state isn’t providing the necessary financial support,” said Jennifer Martinez of Faith in Action Bay Area and PICO California. “How can we stand by while our state continues to be at the bottom of the ladder nationally in education spending and staff-to-student ratios? This hurts each and every student every day,” she said.
“We want every child in California to obtain the education he or she is guaranteed under our state constitution not just because it’s their right but because they deserve it,” said Pecolia Manigo, Bay Area Parent Leadership Action Network (PLAN), a member of the Campaign for Quality Education. “Every child should have the same opportunity to get an education that prepares them to go to college, pursue a career and be active in his or her community. We can show that the state is not living up to its obligations – but we need our day in court,” she said.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit—representing thousands of parents, students and education advocates—include the Campaign for Quality Education (CQE), Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), Californians for Justice (CFJ), Faith in Action Bay Area, and PICO California, plus more than 20 individual students and parents.
For more information about Campaign for Quality Education v. California click here.
Or visit Fair Schools Now
originally posted on Dec 13, 2011, 3:35 PM
On December 9, 2011 a Colorado District Court ruled in favor of plaintiffs in a state-school funding challenge after a five-week trial. The court recognized Colorado students’ constitutional right to an education that prepares them to participate in our democracy and compete in the workforce, and looked to Colorado’s academic content standards as the measure of whether the state is providing that constitutionally-required level of education to all students. After hearing extensive evidence, the court concluded that Colorado’s school finance system is unconstitutional because it prevents districts from providing a standards-based education to all students. The court enjoined the state’s school funding system from continuing to operate until it has been revised to sufficiently fund schools based on what it costs to deliver to all students a standards-based education. The court stayed that injunction until appellate review is completed or until the end of the 2012 legislative session.
“The Lobato case has many parallels to the Campaign for Quality Education school funding lawsuit in California. Like Colorado, California has established state academic standards that all students must meet, but has failed to establish a school finance system that is designed and funded at a level that enables all students to meet those standards. Like Colorado, the drastic budget cuts over the past four years—totaling approximately $20 billion cumulatively—have, in Judge Rappaport’s words, “made an unworkable situation unconscionable.” As in Colorado, California’s underfunded school districts are unable to provide their students with the education that is required by the state constitution and necessary for success in our society. If anything, the California constitution is even stronger than Colorado’s, because the State Supreme Court here has determined that the right to a high quality public education in our state is a fundamental right which can only be impinged by the State for very rare and compelling reasons.
In the face of the plaintiffs’ victory in Lobato, it’s easy to forget that the lower courts initially rejected their lawsuit, just as the trial court has recently done in the Campaign for Quality Education suit.
Following in the footsteps of the Lobato plaintiffs, the students, parents, and grassroots community organizations who are the plaintiffs in CQE v. California will persevere. The wheels of justice sometimes turn slowly, but we will keep fighting to ensure that California lives up to the words of our state’s founders and finally designs and funds a public school finance system that enables all students to obtain an education that prepares them for college, career, and a lifetime of civic engagement.”
For more information about Campaign for Quality Education v. California, visit www.fairschoolsnow.org
originally posted on Dec 9, 2010, 12:00 PM