A group of lawyers sued the state of California Tuesday because of the number of students the state's public schools failed to teach reading.
The advocacy law firm Public Counsel is representing students and teachers from poor performing schools in the suit. The firm said the state hasn’t taken any steps in addressing the number of students in California who are illiterate.
“When it comes to literacy and the delivery of basic education, California is dragging down the nation,” said Public Counsel lawyer Mark Rosenbaum to the Associated Press.
California lags behind the rest of the U.S. in reading for the fourth and eighth grades, according to the Los Angeles Times.
In 2015 statewide tests showed that less than half of students from third grade to fifth could read at a proficient level.
The state superintendent and state board of education president asked for a report on how to improve literacy in the state five years ago, and the suit contends that none of the suggestions in the report have been implemented.
Plaintiffs for the suit include teachers and students from three schools that are amongst California’s lowest-performing institutions.
The schools were La Salle Avenue Elementary School in Los Angeles; Children of Promise Preparatory Academy, an Inglewood, California charter school and Van Buren Elementary School, in Stockton, California. The suit said that the problem cuts across charter and traditional schools.
The lawsuit said that only 8 of 179 students tested at La Salle Elementary last year met literacy standards.
David Moch, a former teacher at La Salle told the Los Angeles Times that he would have to use kindergarten teaching tools on kids as old as fifth graders. He is one of the plaintiffs.
“We need citizens that can read. We need citizens that can vote,” said Moch. “Once you get behind, if there's no intervention, there's no catching up. The level of the work is getting more intense and multiplied at every level.”