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Parents sue state over failing schools

December 10, 2010 7:13:37 PM PST
An Alameda County Superior Court Judge heard arguments in Oakland Friday in a pair of lawsuits that claim the state of California is failing badly in its responsibility to provide students with a quality education.

"Our main concern is the state is not set up, not only financially, but also system-wide to successfully educate our children," said Corina Vasaure, with the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment.

The lawsuits were brought by a coalition of grassroots groups that include parents like San Francisco's Sally Payson-Hays.

"Since we don't ask parents to pave the roads in front of the school," said Payson-Hays. "It only seems fair to me that we shouldn't ask parents to pay for the basics of education."

The state cut $17 billion in education funding in the past two years and more reductions are expected next year as the legislature looks to address a $25.4 billion deficit. The plaintiffs cite statistics that show California ranks 50th in the country in student-teacher ratio and the fact that one-third of students do not graduate from high school in four years.

Attorneys for the state argue there is no constitutional guarantee to a "meaningful" education as the plaintiffs claim in their lawsuits.

"The people, through Propositions 111 and 98 have decided what level of funding is required for the California schools," said Douglass Press, one of several attorneys representing the State of California. "If the plaintiffs believe a different level of funding needs to be established, then they need to go either to the legislature or back to the people."

Judge Steven Brick will decide whether the lawsuits should go to trial. That ruling is expected by late January.


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