San Francisco – Attorneys representing parents, students and community organizations suing the state for failing to provide California’s students with a quality education announced that they will appeal to the state Supreme Court a decision by the First District Court of Appeal today finding no constitutional guarantee of any level of educational quality or any minimum level of funding to support education. The decision affirmed the dismissal by a lower court ofCampaign for Quality Education v. California (“CQE”) and a related companion case, Robles-Wong v. California.
“Plaintiffs categorically disagree with the court’s majority opinion that the right to education in California carries with it no guarantee of minimum quality,” said John Affeldt, lead counsel in the CQE lawsuit. “As our state Supreme Court has said on more than one occasion, the right to education is a fundamental right that ‘means more than access to a classroom.’ We will take plaintiffs’ appeal to the Supreme Court and we remain confident that we will ultimately prevail.”
Justice Stuart Pollak agreed with plaintiffs in a lengthy dissenting opinion that “the Constitution requires a system that provides students with a meaningful basic education in reality as well as on paper.” Justice Pollak noted that a majority of other state supreme courts have found a right to an education of meaningful quality, and cited the California Supreme Court’s previous decisions holding that the constitutional education guarantee is one intended to enable students to graduate with the knowledge and skills needed to productively engage in our democratic and economic institutions.
Plaintiffs in the case pledged to continue fighting in the courts:
“As an organization of poor and working families, particularly in communities of color,” said Amy Schur of Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), “our members and their children live through this every day – schools that are under-staffed, with overcrowded classrooms, too few counselors, run-down facilities, and the list goes on. It’s time for the State of California to live up to their obligation to adequately fund our schools.”
“Right now, too many of our kids don’t get the education they deserve in our public schools because the state isn’t providing the necessary financial support,” said Jennifer Martinez of Faith in Action Bay Area and PICO California. “How can we stand by while our state continues to be at the bottom of the ladder nationally in education spending and staff-to-student ratios? This hurts each and every student every day,” she said.
“We want every child in California to obtain the education he or she is guaranteed under our state constitution not just because it’s their right but because they deserve it,” said Pecolia Manigo, Bay Area Parent Leadership Action Network (PLAN), a member of the Campaign for Quality Education. “Every child should have the same opportunity to get an education that prepares them to go to college, pursue a career and be active in his or her community. We can show that the state is not living up to its obligations – but we need our day in court,” she said.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit—representing thousands of parents, students and education advocates—include the Campaign for Quality Education (CQE), Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), Californians for Justice (CFJ), Faith in Action Bay Area, and PICO California, plus more than 20 individual students and parents.
For more information about Campaign for Quality Education v. California click here.
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