Highlight ONE Influential Case in the U.S.

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Highlight ONE influential case in the U.S. legal system and its implications, and, evaluate the California Williams Decision (2 pages). The case of Brown v. Board of education (1953) fought against inequality of education in the public schools of the United States. 60 years prior to this case, in the case of Plessy v Ferguson (1896) the Supreme Court ruled that racially segregated schools and other facilities were legal as long as schools and facilities for minority groups were equal to those for whites. This law sanctioned what is known as the “Jim Crow” laws which prohibited Blacks from using the same public facilities and services as whites. For 60 years the United States professed to treat and serve African Americans in the same manner that white populations were treated and served. It is hard to believe that it took 6o years to shine the light of reality to the courts and turn this law around.

When Oliver Brown was unable to enroll his daughter in an all-white school in Topeka, Kansas, Oliver took the matter to court and in 1951 he filed class-action suit against the Board of Education. Brown claimed that segregated schools were not equal at all. Black schools did not come close to comparing with the quality of facilities, materials and teacher preparedness in white schools. Oliver appealed to the 14th amendment which prohibits the states from withholding equal protection of laws to any person.

At the same time, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was filing lawsuits to turn over segregation laws in other parts of the country. Oliver Brown’s case was tried before the U.S. District Court in Kansas. It was determined that segregation was detrimental to black children and made them feel inferior. This was a nod in the right direction, but the court continued to uphold the “separate but equal” doctrine”. I must wonder what they were thinking. Abraham Lincoln said that a house divided cannot stand. Even if this segregated education had truly been equal, what positive effect could nurturing two separate, well-educated groups have on the country as a whole. Human nature dictates that we fight for dominance and power in order to preserve ourselves and our community. This could only fuel further dissention and competition between the races.

In 1952 Brown’s case and four other cases regarding segregation in schools, were seen before the supreme court and were combined into a single case bearing the name of the Brown v Board of Education of Topeka case. The supreme court justices were originally divided on how to rule this case. Some justices wanted to uphold the Plessy verdict of “separate but equal” and push to ensure equality. When President Eisenhower appointed Earl Warren, former Governor of California as a Supreme Court Justice, Warren was able to sway a unanimous verdict against segregation in schools. Warren claimed that the “separate but equal” doctrine had no place in the public schools because separate schools are “inherently unequal”. This was obviously a step in the right direction and while I applaud the supreme court of the day for this verdict, I am disappointed that it quickly shirked its responsibility on the matter by remanding any further desegregations cases to lower federal courts while instructing school boards and local courts across the country to move toward desegregation. Some states, including Kansas followed through with this directive, however many Southern officials and schools did not.

Ultimately, the Brown v. Board of Education did not singlehandedly accomplish school desegregation, but it did add fuel to the civil rights movement across the U.S. In 1964 the Civil Rights Act made a major impact in desegregation which was further supported by the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the 1968 Fair Housing Act. But it wasn’t until 1976 that the Supreme Court ruled that private schools denying admission to students based on race were in violation of federal civil rights laws and school segregation was finally brought to a legal end.

The Brown v Board of Education case serves as a benchmark as segregation in other public services and facilities is challenged in U.S. courts. Sadly, we still see inequalities in education today as communities tend to segregate naturally and schools in more affluent neighborhoods have access to more resources. Equality in education is an ideal for which we are still fighting.

Forty-six years after the Supreme court ruling on the Brown v Board of Education case, in May of 2000, another case seeking equality in schools was filed against the state of California. In this case several civil rights organizations including the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the American Civil liberties Union collaborated to file a class-act against the state. The complainants argued that the “state and its agencies including the California Department of Education were not upholding their responsibility to provide an education to California students. Due to shortages of textbooks, poorly maintained and unhealthful school facilities, overcrowded schools and unqualified teachers, students were denied their rights to an education. The Williams suit maintained that 1) the State of California carries the responsibility to ensure that all students have access to the necessary tools, materials, decent facilities and qualified teachers to gain an education; and 2) The State was not fulfilling its obligation to ensure equal educational opportunities for all students.

After over four years of litigation, on September 29, 2004 the case was settled with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signing five bills into law. These bills were to allocate approximately $1 billion of funds for the State budget to ensure that all students in California public schools have textbooks and learning materials, the school facilities are safe and well maintained and the teachers are well qualified. Most importantly the Williams Settlement established a set of standards by which California schools are audited on an annual basis and held accountable. Because all California public school students have the right to textbooks, safe and well-maintained school facilities, and qualified teachers, all districts must perform self-evaluations and any areas that fall out of compliance must be reported in the annual School Accountability Report Card (SARCs). Additional funds are allocated to low performing schools in deciles 1-3 for emergency repairs and new instructional materials. County Superintendents must perform oversight activities to verify SARC reports, report on teacher assignments and vacancies, and report to the appropriate school district board, the county board of education and the county board of supervisors. In addition, the settlement provides a new Uniform Complaint Process for parents, students, teachers to ensure standards are maintained in the public schools.

Two years after the Williams Settlement was signed the ACLU conducted a study to evaluate statewide impacts on California schools. In addition to evaluating the schools across the state, the study focused on the four regions of greatest concern: Los Angeles County, Sacramento County, the Greater Bay Area, and the Central Valley.

Across the state, material improvements were notable. With County superintendents newly aware of previous deficits, students received over 80,000 new textbooks and materials. Similarly, administrators were relieved to employ facility standards to bring attention to areas in need of repair and methods to address these needs. Administrators also found that improved facilities and materials were helpful in attracting qualified teachers thus helping to alleviate the problem of misassignments. While misassignments were still disturbingly common in areas with high numbers of English learners, teachers, schools and districts became motivated to explore professional growth opportunities.

In the regions of most concern: Los Angles County, Sacramento County, The Greater Bay Area and Central Valley overall improvements were also documented. Table 1 below shows significant drops in percentages of decile 1-3 Schools with insufficient textbooks and instructional materials. Sacramento County showed a decrease in the percentage of decile 1-3 school with insufficient textbooks and instructional materials by 17 percentage points, Greater Bay area showed a close second place in improvements by 16 percentage points. Central Valley improved by 11 percentage points and Los Angeles county by 8 percentage points.

[image: ]While Los Angeles County continued to experience an extremely high percentage of facilities in disrepair, other counties experienced great improvements. The Central Valley by showed improvements in this area of evaluation by 18 percentage points while Sacramento County improved by 15 percentage points and the Greater Bay area improved by 12 percentage points.

It was difficult to track improvements in teacher misassignments because most counties had not kept data in that category before the study was done. The study found that 53% of the decile 1-3 schools throughout the state had teacher misassignments. This is a high number and at the time of the study was still an area of concern. Conversely, there were improvements in the percentage of decile 1-3 school teachers assigned to classes with 20% or more English Learners who lacked the appropriate EL authorization.. Figure 1 and figure 2 show that Los Angeles leads the charge in improvements in this category by 21 percentage points. Sacramento and Central Valley both improved by 12 percentage points while the Greater Bay area improved by 9 percentage point.

I believe the Williams settlement gave California the mandate and motivation to develop an evaluation and accountability system that is helping to shed light on areas of need and the resources to begin to meet those needs. In addition the Uniform Complain Process gives students, parents, teachers and others a platform for voicing concerns over poor facility conditions, scarcity of materials, unqualified teachers and administrators and other school concerns. I believe this was a positive move in making improvements in California schools and the pursuit of equality in education.

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Highlight ONE Influential Case in the U.S.. (2019, May 30). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/highlight-one-influential-case-in-the-u-s/

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