Credit: Susan Frey/EdSource Today
Fremont High School in Los Angeles is one of the schools named in Cruz v. California

After winning a court order to improve academic conditions at one Los Angeles high school last fall, lawyers in a class action suit asked Thursday for an additional court order to compel the state to improve instruction time at five other California high schools in the 2015-16 school year.

The 472-page motion, filed in Alameda Superior Court as part of the ongoing Cruz v. California case, provides the first detailed look at allegations made in the lawsuit that class schedules at the high schools are so chaotic and devoid of substantive coursework that some students are being denied their state Constitutional right to an education.

The public interest law firm Public Counsel, the American Civil Liberties Union and the firm Carlton Fields Jorden Burt filed the Cruz suit in May 2014 on behalf of Jessy Cruz, a student at Fremont High School in Los Angeles, and other students. The suit accuses the state of failing to address the factors that reduce learning time in some high-poverty schools, despite knowing of their existence and impact on students.

Those factors include assigning students to “home,” “service” or “library” classes that amount to going home, sitting in the auditorium, roaming around campus or occasionally being given menial administrative tasks.

Response from the defendants in Cruz v. California – the California Department of Education, the State Board of Education, and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson – was brief. “We just received the motion and are reviewing it,” the department said in a statement. “We will be filing our response in March.”cruz-quotes

The motion asks Alameda County Superior Court Judge George Hernandez Jr. to grant a preliminary injunction ordering the California Department of Education to ensure that appropriate class schedules are in place for the fall at five schools: Castlemont and Fremont high schools in the Oakland Unified district; Dorsey and Fremont high schools in the Los Angeles Unified district; and Compton High School in the Compton Unified district.

At the time of publication, the Oakland and Compton districts had not returned requests for comment. In a statement, the Los Angeles Unified School District said it “has taken reasonable steps” to ensure that students assigned to “service” or “home” periods have met their graduation requirements. The district also said it has “taken the necessary steps” so that class schedules for students were completed before the spring semester.

Drawn from legal depositions of school officials and declarations from students and staff, the lengthy motion filed Thursday describes students who want challenging classes but aren’t offered them, teachers who struggle to adapt to constant changes in class schedules, and school and state officials who say they are unaware that students are enrolled in classes during which they receive no instruction.

“I sit in a classroom and teach myself AP Calculus BC,” Carmen Jimenez, a senior at Fremont High School in Oakland, is quoted as saying in the motion. Jimenez states that she has two periods “with no real classes” – one is no class at all and another is called Instructional Work Experience. She would like to take an AP Calculus BC class, but Fremont doesn’t offer one, she said.

“I do not need Physics to graduate, but I am taking it because I want to be learning something,” said Quenajonay Frazier, another student at Fremont High. “The counselor asked me if I would take a second IWE (Instructional Work Experience) instead, and told me that my grades will depend on Physics but not on IWE. I said no, I want Physics.”

“I wish I could be doing something,” said Juan Fernandez Nunez, a student at Dorsey High School in Los Angeles, who was assigned to classes called service, during which he performed menial tasks for teachers or chatted with students, and to “home,” during which he was sent home.

Jordan Gonzalez, a teacher at Fremont High in Los Angeles, said he and his students struggled because of schedule changes. “I had to start my lesson plan from scratch because the teachers I replaced had a different approach to covering the material than I did,” Gonzalez said. “In addition to essentially losing the first three weeks, at least, of the school year, the students were – understandably – upset and angry about the scheduling changes, which caused disruptions and behavior problems the rest of the semester.”

He added, “The students had already gotten used to and begun to develop relationships with their prior teachers, and they felt badly those teachers had been taken from them.”

“I want to make sure I have enough credits to graduate and go to a good college,” said Isaiah Moses, a student at Compton High School. “I don’t just want to do the minimum to graduate.”

“I love to be challenged, and I think privileged schools provide more opportunities to challenge students and encourage their imaginations,” said Jessy Cruz, the named plaintiff in the lawsuit.

“Knowing that other schools have better opportunities than us makes me mad,” said Jesse Romero, a student at Dorsey High. “Seeing the opportunities that other schools get that Dorsey doesn’t tells me the state doesn’t want to spend the money on Dorsey because of the neighborhood it is in.”

When Richard Zeiger, chief deputy superintendent in California, was asked in a deposition if he knows that students are enrolled in classes without content, he replied, “There is no reason I would…it’s not the responsibility of ours to track that.”

In October, Hernandez granted a preliminary injunction requiring the state to intervene at Jefferson High School in Los Angeles, which allegedly had similar patterns of content-less classes, frequent changes of class assignments and the inability of some students to take the classes they need for high school graduation and college enrollment.

“Put bluntly,” Hernandez wrote in his order, “the harms already suffered are severe and pervasive; there is no evidence of an imminent solution; Defendants disclaim their constitutional responsibilities; and the harm to students (who are among the State’s most challenged) is compounding daily.”

Shortly after that ruling, the L.A. Unified school board voted to spend $1.1 million to remedy the scheduling problems at Jefferson High. The district also said that officials would examine schedules at all middle schools and high schools in the district to make sure that students are getting the classes they need to graduate.

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  1. Replies

    • TheMorrigan 2 years ago2 years ago

      Not to demean your efforts–I certainly agree with your point–but I was addressing major media outlets like the LA Times, the NY Time, or the WaPo and most political candidates.

      • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

        I was being (semi)facetious. There has been plenty of critiquing of Duncan's positions from many sources. But, from major media sources: Not so much. It is interesting that the latest "ombudsman" for the NYT ha s done a series of essays on the topic of "media narrative," and "false balance." Once the main media outlets get on to a narrative, take for example the "failure" of the rollout of ACA, they hang on to it … Read More

        I was being (semi)facetious. There has been plenty of critiquing of Duncan’s positions from many sources. But, from major media sources: Not so much.

        It is interesting that the latest “ombudsman” for the NYT ha s done a series of essays on the topic of “media narrative,” and “false balance.” Once the main media outlets get on to a narrative, take for example the “failure” of the rollout of ACA, they hang on to it with pit-bull like ferocity.

        There is a media narrative that regular public schools are “failing.” It is beloved by editors everywhere, “if it bleeds it leads.” The fact that middle-class and wealthier public school students outperform the rest of the world, and we maintain one of the world’s best educated adult populations, are inconvenient facts that should never interfere with a good old editorial rant about selfish adults putting their interests ahead of those of the children.

        And the “balance” thing.” A progressive says that under current economic conditions being overly concerned with the “debt” can only hinder recovery from the recession. The media feels compelled to offer the conservative counterpoint that the dollar is being demeaned and hyper-inflation is just around the corner. The fact that the dollar is kicking the Euro’s keister and that deflation represents the greatest threat to world recovery are, perhaps, mentioned on page 10 of the same paper.

        Or, a Phd. in epidemiology says all kids should be vaccinated, but in an interview with former Playboy Playmate Jenny McCarthy, with all of her medical “expertise,” doubt is cast on the wisdom of contemporary medicine.

        Or highly experienced teachers and long time policy spokespersons for teachers’ unions cast doubt on the validity of using student test scores for teacher evaluations, but Arne Duncan and Bill Gates, neither of whom has spent a day teaching real kids in a classroom or demonstrates any insight into actual education research, think teacher evaluations based on student test scores are the greatest thing since sliced bread.

        All opinions are equivalent, and/or the less they are based on reality the more validity they earn. Go figure.

        Then there are a couple of other interpretations.

        There is now a social/political/economic elite position, that transcends traditional political positioning, on education issues that has formed up around neo-liberal interpretations and policy prescriptions. Teachers and their unions need to be blamed and held accountable for perceived failures of education. The fact that a research consensus has been reached that conditions of poverty have a greater influence on test score variability than schools as a whole or the part teachers play within schools (see the ETS website on this) is to be dismissed with slogans like “making excuses.” The fact that childhood poverty in the US far exceeds that of other major industrialized nations and that the “elites,” who actually hold the levers of power in the nation, and have utterly failed to address issues of poverty is to remain firmly hidden behind the proverbial curtain.

        The media loves featuring elites. Any day now we’ll get the Kardashian’s policy prescriptions for educational reform.

        Then there is the development that many formerly independent media outlets have now become centralized in ownership by corporate interests. The media position that schools are failing, and that holding teachers “accountable” or control of schools should be handed over to private management are viable policy alternatives, falls neatly into the narrative that money doesn’t matter in education and, particularly that making wealthy elites or corporate interests pay more taxes to improve schools and children’s lives is the moral outrage of our times.

  2. Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

    Another reminder that, as when the original lawsuit came up on this site, staffing schools appropriately and developing a master schedule that provides students with the optimal schedule is the responsibility of management. And management oversight is the responsibility of the local board of education. Not to make excuses for district management and boards, but dealing with staffing and providing a wide away of classes is difficult under CA's abysmal funding and things were further … Read More

    Another reminder that, as when the original lawsuit came up on this site, staffing schools appropriately and developing a master schedule that provides students with the optimal schedule is the responsibility of management. And management oversight is the responsibility of the local board of education. Not to make excuses for district management and boards, but dealing with staffing and providing a wide away of classes is difficult under CA’s abysmal funding and things were further complicated by massive personnel cuts due to the recession. On the other hand, too many excuses should not be made for the management of the respective districts named. The district leaders likely most responsible for the various fiascos have already “gotten out of Dodge.”

  3. Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

    This topic seems to have opened the door for the usual ritual teachers’ union bashing, so just to liven up the discussion here are some excerpts of various papers on the subject. First from Susanna Loeb and Marianne E. Page* “However, once we adjust for labor market factors, we estimate that raising teacher wages by 10% reduces high school dropout rates by 3% to 4%. Our findings suggest that previous studies have failed to produce robust … Read More

    This topic seems to have opened the door for the usual ritual teachers’ union bashing, so just to liven up the discussion here are some excerpts of various papers on the subject.

    First from Susanna Loeb and Marianne E. Page*

    “However, once we adjust for labor market factors, we estimate that raising teacher wages by 10% reduces high school dropout rates by 3% to 4%. Our findings suggest that previous studies have failed to produce robust estimates because they lack adequate controls for non-wage aspects of teaching and market differences in alternative occupational opportunities .”

    ( Stanford University and University of California at Davis, respectively.)

    Then from Eunice Han, at Harvard Educational Review:

    “Moreover, my data on financial information of school districts reject the commonly held belief that public sector unions deteriorate employers’ financial status and show that the unionism is associated with stronger financial standing of school districts. “

    This last is from the Washington Post: Answer Sheet”
    • “Average 2009 NAEP Score By State Teacher Contract Laws
    • States with binding teacher contracts
4th grade: Math 240.0 Reading 220.7
8th grade: Math 282.1 Reading 263.7
    • States without binding teacher contracts
4th grade: Math 237.7 Reading 217.5
8th grade: Math 281.2 Reading 259.5
    • As the table shows, the states in which there are no teachers covered under binding agreements score lower than the states that have them. Moreover, even though they appear small, all but one of these (8th grade math) are rather large differences.”

    So, to align the various points made, higher teachers pay tends to reduce HS dropout rates. Unionized school districts tend to have more robust “financial standing.” Scores on the US’s only “national test,” the NAEP, are higher in states with unions than those without unions. Further poking around will find that the states with the highest teacher pay, highest rates of unionization, and highest student performance tend to be in the northeast quadrant of the country. And states with the lowest pay, almost nonexistent unionization, and lowest performance are in the southeast quadrant.

  4. FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

    No surprise. The ruling class doesn't want poor kids to steal the few good jobs left in the New World Order from their precious heirs. So they unite with the union to guarantee every teacher a job for life even if they are terrible, so they have all the lemons at their schools, and don't even provide the courses. They already long ago decided to target this population for elimination by long … Read More

    No surprise. The ruling class doesn’t want poor kids to steal the few good jobs left in the New World Order from their precious heirs. So they unite with the union to guarantee every teacher a job for life even if they are terrible, so they have all the lemons at their schools, and don’t even provide the courses. They already long ago decided to target this population for elimination by long prison sentences and minimum wage jobs for the women. This is by design. You think those in Congress would allow this to happen to their kids? Or anyone with money? But it’s OK if it’s poor kids. I’m glad they sued. Luckily we wrote our constitution when we still believed in meritocracy and opportunity and not oligarchy. The rich may now threaten to move if they are required to pay for equal opportunity, truly equal. What a joke! The rich in private school get a counselor per 50 kids, and these make do with a mediocre guaranteed to never be fired no matter what counselor per 400 kids. Then we say it’s their fault if they’re poor. That’s why the rich who control the media never praise Asians, because low income people aren’t supposed to work hard and steal ruling-class reserved jobs. You can’t praise hard work. You’ll take your station and like it poor people while my prison company makes millions for locking you up because crime was the only way you could feed yourself after this conspiratorially mediocre education. We’re so fair. You should have studied algebra, it’s your fault, except for the fact that we put you in the class 6 weeks late and made you teach yourself.

    Replies

    • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

      Be careful, now you’re contradicting yourself.

      • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

        How? If a large segment of the population has never had a college graduate and doesn't emphasize education, it is society's responsibility to convince children they can do well in school and get a high paying and satisfying career. This is the way people look at it in Europe and Asia. A society that fails to motivate many to try will fail. Sure, you can blame the parents and the kids, … Read More

        How? If a large segment of the population has never had a college graduate and doesn’t emphasize education, it is society’s responsibility to convince children they can do well in school and get a high paying and satisfying career. This is the way people look at it in Europe and Asia. A society that fails to motivate many to try will fail. Sure, you can blame the parents and the kids, and both are at fault, but we as a society are to blame because we don’t make much effort to intervene and point out success stories and provide support and motivation to families, convince them to put education #1. There’s a lot of blame to go around and all are culpable in not creating a world in which all kids thrive. There’s no contradiction. We don’t put kids first as a society. Teachers put job security and convenience over the interests of kids via the union, even if fortunately most don’t individually, parents put short-term interests first, kids put short term interests first but that’s what you’d expect without guidance. Those in the ruling class are happy to let this situation consider and by the language they use, many consider the schools 92% of kids attend as unthinkable, even schools in good neighborhoods with good test scores, for their kids. They are happy to let a situation continue in which schools are highly segregated and 92% of kids go to schools they consider unthinkable for themselves.

        This is the creation of a caste system. 6% of kids in the bottom quintile reach the top one in adulthood. 39% of those born in the top quintile do. If you think that’s a status quo worth keeping I disagree. We need to start over and build something new.

        • Tom 2 years ago2 years ago

          Well Floyd, at least we have one branch of government willing to stand up for the kids and shake up the political branch, who are largely bought and paid for by union dues – $1000/year/member (average) and 330,000,000 teachers = lots of money to pass around. Way more than any single interest. Might even say most of our elected representatives are being bribed with our own money.

          • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

            Tom, the Federal Government is the largest single entity by far. Its oligarchs like Duncan wield the power of kings. People complain about the billionaire boys who spend their own money to wield influence. But consider King Duncan, the predator American eagle Arne, who simply threw away FIVE BILLION DOLLARS of YOUR money on the School Improvement Grants in what turned out to be a total bust - a scandal and embarrassment that NO ONE … Read More

            Tom, the Federal Government is the largest single entity by far. Its oligarchs like Duncan wield the power of kings. People complain about the billionaire boys who spend their own money to wield influence. But consider King Duncan, the predator American eagle Arne, who simply threw away FIVE BILLION DOLLARS of YOUR money on the School Improvement Grants in what turned out to be a total bust – a scandal and embarrassment that NO ONE wants to talk about. That abomination goes almost without mention here on this education media outlet. Nevertheless, was any lesson learned from showering millions upon school after school without regard for results, as if one can simply command the education of children by fiat? SIG was, after all, part of ARRA – a job’s program and an exercise in deficit spending.

            America, once rich, grew accustomed to buying what it wanted, but now, even if it could, America is too divided and indebted to engage in this hubris.

            • Dawn Urbanek 2 years ago2 years ago

              If taxpayers only understood how true that is.

            • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

              Don, how would you change the fact that 6% of those born in the bottom quintile and 39% from the top spend adulthood at the top? How are we better than the India caste system? For a very few we are. You seem to attack everyone who tries to do something about it as if you have a better solution, but as a Republican, I suspect you'd say little in protest if … Read More

              Don, how would you change the fact that 6% of those born in the bottom quintile and 39% from the top spend adulthood at the top? How are we better than the India caste system? For a very few we are. You seem to attack everyone who tries to do something about it as if you have a better solution, but as a Republican, I suspect you’d say little in protest if no one tried anything at the Federal Level to make America more meritocratic so those born at the bottom have an equal chance in life to those born at the top, spending enough to make up for segregated schooling by increasing taxes on wealth or whatever it takes to make it truly equal. Duncan is on the side of the little guy. He’s doing this to be progressive and help those who can’t help themselves. He’s offering a hand up, not a hand out. These are facts. These are undisputed facts. Duncan is not rich.

              If you are honestly individualizing it, what is your solution, and make sure the rich have to sacrifice because they caused this mess. Do you have a solution which will help kids now born in poverty have a fair chance in adulthood? Or is it really a ploy to individualize everything and then have the status quo continue where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer? Do you really want equal opportunity just a different way? Or do you want the status quo? We have less class mobility than Asia or Europe. That’s a fact Jack.

              Dawn is right about the union that’s a huge problem. They sold out the poor.

            • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

              If sig was a jobs program then why are you faulting it for not raising student achievement?
              It’s worth noting that arra effectively supplanted part of the significant state level budget cuts in ca, so it seems odd to expect it to have changed anything on the achievement landscape (ie it merely avoided worse cuts).

            • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

              I’m saying that despite the $5B price tag it didn’t do much except pay for a combination of public and privately contracted education jobs and enrich the contracting companies. It certainly didn’t help with achievement.

              I’m not sure what you’re point is, Navigio – that it was a good use of $5B?

              I think you meant backfilled, not supplanted.

            • TheMorrigan 2 years ago2 years ago

              I have to agree with you, Don: Duncan's policies have never been scrutinized carefully from either side of the political aisle nor from the media in any depth. Additionally, there is hardly any research backing up any of his proposals. Most damning of all: Of the states that received RttT funds, almost all of them never spent the majority of those funds on students nor teachers; and these states have all added increases to their education … Read More

              I have to agree with you, Don:

              Duncan’s policies have never been scrutinized carefully from either side of the political aisle nor from the media in any depth. Additionally, there is hardly any research backing up any of his proposals.

              Most damning of all: Of the states that received RttT funds, almost all of them never spent the majority of those funds on students nor teachers; and these states have all added increases to their education budget without seeing increases in student performance.

              I am not one that believes money (or more money) should not go to education (technology, school infrastructure and special education are sapping budgets all over the country), but I do believe that we should spend our money on strategies that are more effective than what Duncan has proposed.

            • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

              Look up the federal definition of supplant. It describes exactly what happened. But backfill works too if you’d like.
              Either way, if the amount isn’t actually a supplement, why would you expect it to change anything?

            • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

              The Morrigan, you raise an interesting point. Everyone now wants to spend on technology but education is an area where humans connect with and motivate humans. Maybe as more jobs get automated and the rich get all the money because they own the stock because they were in a position to own the stock due to past inequality, they should get taxed and the tax should pay for one on one tutors, so … Read More

              The Morrigan, you raise an interesting point. Everyone now wants to spend on technology but education is an area where humans connect with and motivate humans. Maybe as more jobs get automated and the rich get all the money because they own the stock because they were in a position to own the stock due to past inequality, they should get taxed and the tax should pay for one on one tutors, so unemployment doesn’t drop and child performance for the poor is equalized with that of the rich. It would create jobs which the rich want to outsource. We should say to these tech. executives, for each job you outsource to India, we will tax you all the money you save by this evil practice and use it to pay tutors for poor kids. Then they’ll think twice before sending American jobs overseas.

        • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

          This is brilliant, Floyd. You should yell it out as loud and as often as possible.

          • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

            You never answered my question. Do you have an alternative, or is your goal to be so critical and bureaucratic as to negate all attempts to create equal opportunity? Do you have an alternative under which income will be more equal and more varied and unpredictable in the future? More fair among classes? Less segregated?

    • Dawn Urbanek 2 years ago2 years ago

      Floyd- This is happening to all the kids in my District- not as bad yet- but no one is getting prepared for college because we do not have adequate funding to hire counselors, librarians, teachers (40 kids to a class) in a wealthy suburban school District! The wealthy schools in the wealthy District can charge illegal fees and fundraise to mitigate some of the damage- but the poorer schools just go without. So the end result … Read More

      Floyd-

      This is happening to all the kids in my District- not as bad yet- but no one is getting prepared for college because we do not have adequate funding to hire counselors, librarians, teachers (40 kids to a class) in a wealthy suburban school District! The wealthy schools in the wealthy District can charge illegal fees and fundraise to mitigate some of the damage- but the poorer schools just go without. So the end result of constant inadequate funding- is an equally bad education for every student.

      With only 39% of students graduating from CUSD ready for College level courses in English Language Arts and 23% of the Students graduating from CUSD ready for College level courses in Mathematics you can only conclude that all students are being deprived of the education they need to get into college or get job training and end up with a skilled job that will pay a living wage. I would argue that the lack of education is the same for everyone- native english speaker or ELL, rich or poor, and irrespective of race or ethnicity.

      The data shows that everyone is equally uneducated.

      23% of the Students graduating from CUSD are ready for College level courses in Mathematics.
      22% of English Language Learners are prepared for college level course-work in Mathematics.

      Equally uneducated.

      With all the wealth, and educated parents in south Orange County you would think that the gap would be much wider especially if there is some conspiracy to suppress certain people. The fact is simple- the continued lack of adequate funding for K-12 education is taking a toll on even the most privileged students. Everyone is graduating without mastering basic mathematics in high school.

      English is only slightly better.

      Let’s get the Unions out of education and start putting our time, money and energy into the education of students and not adult jobs.

      Now we are re-structuring successful programs – not because it is good for students but because it saves money (to pay employees and nonthing else) – see our ROP restructuring. see http://disclosurecusd.blogspot.com/2015/02/rop-board-to-meet-tonight-to-discuss.html