California public schools serving poor children have better facilities, more textbooks and more appropriately qualified teachers than they did seven years ago, according to a study released this week by the American Civil Liberties Union.
The study highlights "significant progress" made since the 2004 settlement of Williams v. California, the lawsuit the ACLU and others brought on behalf of children lacking access to basic resources for learning. The report by the ACLU of Southern California concludes: "The evidence is clear: Williams is working."
Locally, conditions have improved dramatically in schools serving underprivileged youth. While all schools must comply with the Williams settlement, only schools that score in the bottom 30 percent on state tests -- which generally correspond with schools in pockets of poverty -- are monitored by their county offices of education. In Santa Clara County, that represents about 12 percent of the total enrollment in public schools.
Two years ago -- the most recent data examined -- in the county's monitored schools, 1 percent of those classrooms lacked appropriate textbooks, compared with 10 percent in 2005.