Sunday, August 26, 2007

Schools improve after lawsuit

Carla Rivera of the Los Angeles Times wrote on August 12, 2007 that improvements have been made since Williams v. California was settled:

"Three years after the settlement of a class-action lawsuit brought on behalf of California's poorest students, a new study has found that teaching and learning conditions in the state's lowest-performing schools have improved: More children are receiving textbooks, school facilities are in better repair and more teachers have proper credentials.

"The report, scheduled to be released Monday, is the first comprehensive assessment of the impact of Williams vs. California, which resulted in a package of laws requiring county superintendents to visit the lowest-achieving schools to monitor the availability of textbooks and the physical condition of buildings as well as to determine if teachers -- particularly those in classrooms with large numbers of English-learners -- are properly assigned.

"The ACLU Foundation of Southern California and Public Advocates, which prepared the report and were co-counsel for the plaintiffs, found progress in all areas, although some counties and individual districts, such as Los Angeles Unified, still fell behind statewide averages.

"Some education groups that have been monitoring the settlement criticized the adequacy of complaint procedures and the depth of teacher training. They pointed to figures in the report, such as that 20,000 classes with substantial numbers of English-learners still did not have teachers with the proper training to provide instruction. They also noted that there is no evidence the settlement has helped to close the achievement gap between poor students and non-native English-speakers and their white counterparts.

"Still, during the study period from 2004 to 2006, students statewide received more than 88,000 new textbooks and instructional materials, nearly 3,000 emergency campus repairs were funded and the percentage of fully credentialed teachers increased from 90% to 92%..."

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