Here’s one vision of the future for California public schools: Every teacher is effective. Schools are free of child molesters. Schools provide quality instruction time to every kid in every classroom.
These are all possibilities, judging from this season of potential change for the state’s public schools.
In recent weeks, a trio of separate but related actions has taken aim at the state in efforts that proponents say would improve the safety and academic performance of California’s 6.2 million public school students. But whether they would, in fact, lead to constructive change or serve merely as change for change sake remains to be seen.
If all three efforts succeed, one outcome is clear: the state and school districts would have new responsibilities aimed at providing students a better learning environment through changes that could hold important benefits for low-income and minority children.
In chronological order:
- The ACLU of Southern California and two other law firms in late May filed a class action in an Alameda County state court — Cruz v. California — on behalf of 18 students from seven schools, charging that students are being denied adequate instruction time. Two of the schools are in LA Unified — Fremont High School and Florence Griffith Joyner Elementary School. Another two are in Compton Unified —Compton High and Franklin S. Whaley Middle School.
- Early this month, a state superior court in Los Angeles delivered a stunning victory to nine student-plaintiffs in Vergara v. California, striking down a series of state laws that govern teacher protections as a way to remove ineffective teachers from their classrooms.
- Last week, with unanimous support in both chambers, the state Assembly and Senate sent a bill to Gov. Jerry Brown that would make it easier to get rid of teachers accused of immoral and illegal behavior.