ALAMEDA, Calif. (KRON) – A new lawsuit is challenging California’s promise to provide free, basic education to students.
The lawsuit claims the state has failed to do its job, in providing necessary resources for kids in underserved communities during the coronavirus pandemic.
They worry students in those communities are falling further behind the education gap.
This 84-page lawsuit was filed on behalf of seven families and two education advocacy groups who say that even before the pandemic, Black, brown, and Latinx students were being cheated by the state in their education with a lack of funding and resources.
Now in the age of COVID, they say the state’s lack of a game plan and direction to provide adequate resources is making a tough situation even tougher, closing the education gap in California.
“With the rise of remote learning, the problems have just multiplied and multiplied and have been exacerbated,” attorney Shaelyn Dawson said.
The lawsuit filed Monday in Alameda County Superior Court claims the state is failing to live up to its constitutional commitment to provide free, quality education to every child.
The gap has only widened during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The students aren’t getting that basic right of education when they can’t even when it’s remote when they can’t access that remote education, they don’t have computers, other devices, they don’t have connectivity,” Dawson said.
According to the lawsuit claims for years, Black, brown, and Latinx students have been underserved by the education system.
Since COVID-19, issues have only grown.
The lawsuit claims many students in these groups don’t have access to the necessary devices to close to the digital divide.
Also, teachers have had inadequate support.
“Right before COVID hit less than 30 percent of black and brown students in Oakland were reading at grade level, so COVID didn’t help us out at all,” Lakisha Young said.
Lakisha Young is the leader of Oakland REACH, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
The parent-run, parent lead education group has been filling in the gaps for students, by providing laptops, teachers, and a place where students can learn.
She says the lawsuit is about making sure Black and brown families are finally heard, with solutions, that are being done now that can make a difference.
“Our babies are already behind. We can’t afford, we will not stand for this to continue, and there’s no reason we can’t do better by our kids,” Young said.
KRON4 reached out to the state superintendent’s office Monday for a comment on the lawsuit but in response to the filing, the office did issue this response when it comes to a free education saying in part:
“That there is no state enforcement of intervention mechanism to ensure that local education agencies actually provide free and equal education to all students in the state.”
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