As a second grader, “Ella T.” had the literacy level of a preschooler. She couldn’t spell basic words — paper, dear, need, help — and could “barely write a complete sentence,” according to a court filing.
At La Salle Elementary in South Los Angeles, staff knew the child wasn’t making progress. But Ella T. only received a handful of short tutoring sessions, her attorneys said: The school “does not have the resources to deliver meaningful literacy interventions.”
Ella T.’s attorneys didn’t blame the school; they blamed the state of California. In 2017, they sued, arguing that state education officials knew of a “crisis” of reading and writing in California public schools, yet failed to muster the money or a plan to address it.
On Thursday, an L.A. Superior Court judge approved a settlement in Ella T. v. California in which state leaders, including Gov. Gavin Newsom, agreed to take steps to address the plaintiffs’ concerns.
The settlement demonstrates that Newsom and his administration are “serious about addressing the fact [that] right now, California is bringing down the nation,” said the plaintiffs’ attorney, Mark Rosenbaum.
In the 2017 complaint (screenshot above) attorneys included a sample of “Ella T.’s” writing. They said it illustrated that, at the time, she “could barely write a complete sentence.”
According to her attorneys, it reads, “Der Governor. I can improve the school. supplies eras piso cupiso. shrpo pars yes. I ned eshu hlpe.”
As part of the agreement, state education officials have agreed to a three-year, $50 million grant program to improve reading and writing instruction in 75 struggling schools. Newsom included money for the effort in his budget proposal.
“The state will make certain,” said Rosenbaum, who’s with law the firm Public Counsel, “not just that they have the financial resources, but that they have programs in place … [that] meet all the evidence-based factors that we know work in terms of teaching kids how to read.”
Read the rest at: Learning to Read!