The Slum Buster
1 | 2
| 3 |
4 | 5
Blasi writes in the report, "We did not expect to find appalling
conditions in schools across the state, in small towns and rural
areas as well as in big, urban areas. We did not expect to find
students across the state trying to learn in what can only be described
as slum conditions." But that precisely is what they did find.
even more disturbing is this: While children are being pressured
to meet rigorous academic standards or risk failure, the schools
they attend often meet only the barest of standards themselves.
There is no regulation, for example, that every child must have
a textbook for his or her own use. Yet there is such a provision
for barbers and cosmetologists during their training.
when there are standards, there is no system to enforce them. All
that exists, Blasi asserts, is a sprawling, unresponsive bureaucracy.
"What we found was a patchwork of rules and regulations, a patchwork
comprised almost entirely of holes," the report says. "As a matter
of California Constitutional law, it is clear that it is state officials
who are ultimately accountable for public education. But in the
daily life of our schools, there is another answer to the question
of who is ultimately accountable: no one."
study has had stunning reverberations, drawing national media attention.
The unprecedented investigation has also been fodder for a class-action
lawsuit, Williams v. State of California, believed to be the most
sweeping of its kind. Brought on behalf of 23,000 parents and students,
the landmark suit charges that California is violating its constitutional
guarantee of an equal public education and demands that the state
provide students with the basic necessities of an education. It
also demands that a real system of enforcement be put in place.
report is really the most comprehensive examination of the failure
of the State of California to be accountable for the abysmal state
of public schools," says Mark Rosenbaum, legal director of the American
Civil Liberties Union of Southern California which, along with other
civil rights groups, filed the suit. "I can't imagine a judge reading
that report and not concluding that something ought to be done immediately."
is amazed at the response the study has triggered, the tapping of
some raw public nerve. "In fact," he says, "I wondered whether it
would get any attention at all."
of my teachers do not even try to teach. We frequently are shown
Hollywood movies during our regular class. I have seen A Nightmare
on Elm Street, Scream and lots of other movies."
Jesse, 8th grader, Los Angeles