(The Center Square) – California settled a case alleging abysmal performance of the state’s public K-12 schools is a violation of state constitutional rights to an education by agreeing to spend $2 billion on evidence-based learning interventions.
Under the settlement, local schools are required to identify students who require the most learning support, and use $2 billion in existing federal funding set aside for California to combat pandemic-era learning losses to deploy proven learning interventions. These will likely include the kind of science, phonics-based reading programs the plaintiff’s lawyers secured for California’s 75 worst-performing schools in another lawsuit.
The case was brought by Public Counsel, a public interest legal group, and Morrison Foerster, a multinational law firm, who previously worked together on the case securing the $50 million phonics-based reading intervention.
This pilot program accelerated reading learning by 25% and had the spillover effect of boosting math advancement by 12% relative to students in schools that didn’t adopt the programs, suggesting a statewide replication of this program could come with major educational improvements for millions of California students.
“The urgent vision of this historic settlement is not just to recoup the academic losses suffered by California’s most disadvantaged students, but to erase the opportunity gaps altogether exacerbated by the pandemic,” said Mark Rosenbaum, who led litigation on the case for Public Counsel, in a statement.
The settlement funds will target math, English, and absenteeism, and require that school districts report significant metrics for academic performance and chronic absenteeism.
“This settlement aims to improve educational outcomes through targeted interventions and enhanced accountability,” said Public Counsel in a statement.
Public Counsel also noted that, “In a first for California, the proposed law will enable funds to be spent on community organizations with a proven track record of improving student success.”
Public Counsel describes itself as a “a nonprofit public interest law firm dedicated to advancing civil rights and racial and economic justice” and largely focuses its efforts on Los Angeles and California-wide issues.