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In Lawsuit Settlement, California Agrees To Spend Millions On Literacy

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FILE - A teacher at Pacific Avenue Education Center reads to her students. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has signed off on a lawsuit settlement that will direct $50 million for literacy instruction to dozens of California schools.

The plaintiffs in Ella T. v. California had sought to establish that the California constitution gives all public school students the right to basic reading and writing instruction.

In agreeing to settle the case, Gov. Gavin Newsom and state leaders agreed to push ahead with plans for a three-year, $50 million grant program to improve reading and writing instruction in 75 struggling schools.

“The state will make certain,” said plaintiffs attorney Mark Rosenbaum, “not just that they have the financial resources, but that they have programs in place … that we know work in terms of teaching kids how to read.”

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The grant program is currently in the governor’s budget proposal.

The settlement also calls for new statewide guidance to schools calling for less-punitive discipline. Rosenbaum, who is with the firm Public Counsel, says that’s because students' social and emotional needs are often barriers to learning to read.

The case was named for “Ella T.,” a student in a struggling L.A. public school. Ella T. was one of 10 students from L.A., Inglewood and Stockton who were listed along with two advocacy organizations as plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

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