Poor School Conditions Prompt Lawsuit on Behalf of Students: How Does Your School Compare?
Led by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a coalition of private- and public-interest groups filed suit yesterday in California, alleging that students in 18 schools throughout the state receive a substandard education. "If these schools were housing, they would be treated as slums," said Mark Rosenbaum, legal director of the ACLU in southern California.
Today's news story [left] details some of the complaints included in the lawsuit the ACLU filed yesterday on behalf of California students.
Take a look at the list of problems.
* How many might be problems in your school?
* Are these school conditions an urban issue, or are the problems universal?
* Could you teach in environments such as the ones described in the lawsuit?
* If some schools are failing -- if they would earn a grade of F -- what grade would your school receive?
Share your thoughts about the lawsuit on today's How Does Your School Compare? message board.
May 18, 2000 -- Led by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a coalition of private- and public-interest groups filed suit yesterday in California, alleging that students in 18 schools throughout the state receive a substandard education. "These schools are the shame of California," said Mark Rosenbaum, legal director of the ACLU in southern California. Speaking at a news conference in Los Angeles yesterday, Rosenbaum said, "If these schools were housing, they would be treated as slums. ... These are the schools a government would create if it did not care about all its children."
The suit lists as defendants the state school superintendent, Delain Eastin, her department, and the State Board of Education. "The lawsuit is lengthy and detailed," Leigh Manasevit, a spokesperson for the California Department of Education (CDE) told Education World today. "[CDE] will have no comment about the lawsuit until the department's lawyers, and perhaps the attorney general, have had a chance to review it." It is estimated that the review process will take two to three weeks.
Among the complaints detailed in the lawsuit:
- Some classes lack textbooks; other classes don't have enough textbooks for every student.
- Some classes share textbooks, which prevents students from taking them home to do homework.
- Some schools are severely overcrowded.
- Schedules present obstacles to learning, including year-round schedules that result in a reduced number of instruction days.
- Some schools lack adequate heating, ventilation, or air conditioning.
- In some schools, classrooms are created in spaces previously used as gymnasiums, libraries, and auditoriums.
- Some teachers have not yet obtained teaching credentials.
- Roaches and vermin inhabit some classrooms.
- Some schools offer too few courses.
- Some schools have filthy bathrooms and toilets with no seat covers.
- Some classrooms don't have enough seats for students.
- In some schools, libraries are closed.
- The supply of paper and pencils is insufficient in some schools.
Those problems occur disproportionately in schools serving minority students in urban areas. Even when violations of "minimal standards" are reported, the state has taken few steps to remedy the situation, the suit contends.
Copyright © 2000 Education World
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