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A baseline for better education

August 16, 2007

Re "We're still failing our students," Opinion, Aug. 14

Camille Esch says students in our lowest-performing public schools deserve high-quality teachers, and we agree. So why belittle a program that is already making progress in that area?

After only its second full year, the agreement in the Williams vs. California class-action suit has already raised the percentage of qualified teachers statewide and identified thousands who are assigned to classes they aren't trained to teach.

It's important to remember how bad conditions are for students in our lowest-performing schools. Just three years ago, when the Williams agreement was signed, millions of students faced crumbling classrooms, textbook shortages and teachers unprepared for the challenges. A new report shows improvements in all three areas.

Is it enough? No. But Williams set a baseline for improvement. And it shines a spotlight on the problem of teacher equity by providing meaningful and previously unavailable data to tackle the issue -- the same data Esch used to disparage the report. We ask her to join us in calling on the state and school districts to put a qualified teacher in every classroom.

Ramona Ripston

Executive Director

ACLU of Southern

California, Los Angeles

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