A judge approved a settlement Thursday that says the state of California has to pay $53 million to improve literacy across the state.
The settlement states that $50 million will go towards helping 75 low-performing elementary schools develop customized three-year literacy action plans. The remaining $3 million will be used for a literacy expert to help develop the state’s literacy action plan and identify where training is needed.
Mark Rosenbaum, directing attorney at Public Counsel, which filed the lawsuit, said,
“The right to read is not just the cornerstone of education, it is the cornerstone of our democracy. Without it, we continue to build a future on the illusion that the haves compete on the same terms with the have nots. This revolutionary settlement, coming nearly 70 long years after Brown v. Board, does not end that struggle, but it invigorates it with the power of children and their communities who insist on the equal opportunity to tell their stories and remake California in the images of all.”
The lawsuit was filed in December 2017. According to the suit, it was filed, “On measures of literacy and basic education, in the 200 largest school districts in the country, California has 11 of the lowest performing 26 districts, including three among the lowest performing 10 districts.”
David Moch, a former teacher at La Salle Elementary School and one of the plaintiffs in the case, said that a lack of funding, support and the absence of culturally relevant material kept him from teaching his students the proper reading and writing skills.
“I taught for over 20 years in a community with a high rate of foster care, a large low-income population and a high crime rate, and yet I know that my students while both brilliant and capable, were not always able to live up to their full potential because they were often stifled by the lack of adequate literacy education,” he said.
The Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent, Austin Beutner, said that while the settlement is a step in the right direction, it’s a small one.
“There is talent in every seat in every classroom in every one of the 1,386 schools in Los Angeles Unified,” he said. “But there is not always opportunity. We’ve work to do, and the kids are counting on us.”