Gavin Newsom is being sued for his vicious attack on California’s most vulnerable students, in what’s being called “the most important civil rights education case since Brown v. Board of Education.”
SB 98, signed by Newsom last month, delighted special interests but devastated public charter schools “serving almost exclusively low-income students of color.”
“I opened a network of schools to close the African American achievement gap by preparing kids for college in a different way,” said Margaret Fortune, one of the plaintiffs. “We enter into this lawsuit, not lightly. But we will use every resource within our grasp to protect our children and our students.”
This is on top of Gov. Newsom’s school closure order, which McKinsey found “will exacerbate existing achievement gaps by 15 to 20 percent.” In California, those gaps are already among the widest in the country thanks to the same special interests who (a) had Newsom sign SB 98 and (b) spent millions electing him Governor.
Their investment has paid off. In Gavin Newsom, they’ve installed the personification of special interest capture. Between his discrimination against underprivileged kids and his relentless enforcement of AB 5, Newsom is the most anti-progressive Governor in modern California history.
For me, this is personal: I taught high school in inner-city LA and ran for the Legislature to fight for quality public schools. But every attempt I’ve made to expand opportunity has been thwarted by Newsom and his allies.
What SB 98 does is stop schools that enroll new students from receiving funding for them, eviscerating the one meaningful driver of school quality in California. This effectively stops charter schools from enrolling new students at a time when more families are turning to them.
A long-time equity advocate put it this way: “In my 30 years of close involvement in the state budget process, I’ve never witnessed such an egregious abuse.”
California ranks 47th in fourth-grade math, 46th in fourth-grade reading, and 46th in fourth-grade science. Thanks to Gov. Newsom, we’ll now be in the running for 50th.
But with their lawsuit, Margaret Fortune, Jerry Simmons and other educational equity advocates have given California’s kids a fighting chance.
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