A Landmark Literacy Update: New Study Shows Reading Programs’ Success

Public Counsel is excited to share a significant development in our campaign to uphold the right to literacy for every child in California. In 2020, Public Counsel and our co-counsel at Morrison & Foerster, along with courageous students, parents, and community groups, secured a landmark settlement with the State of California to bolster student literacy. One of the settlement’s key initiatives was the creation of evidence-based literacy programs at 75 of the state’s lowest-performing schools.

Three years later, we are now witnessing the fruits of this victory. A comprehensive study released this week by Stanford University researchers shows that these targeted literacy programs helped schools make significant progress on third-grade state standardized tests. Despite the unforeseen challenges presented by the global pandemic, these schools’ students not only persevered but also thrived – a testament to the resilience and potential of our young learners when given the right tools and supported by committed teachers and staff and the California Department of Education.

Access to literacy is not just the cornerstone of education; it is the cornerstone of our democracy. That every child learns to read so they can read to learn is what can make public education our state’s great equalizer. It is proof that the science, methods, and programs for teaching literacy are not only known but also are profoundly effective, affordable, and ready for implementation. It is proof too of the power of community and love of children.

As we celebrate this milestone, we must also recognize that this is but one step forward in our broader fight to ensure that every student, no matter their skin color, background, or zip code, has access to a quality education. This progress demonstrates the need for continued leadership, commitment, and investment in literacy to ensure that all California students have the support they need to grow, learn, thrive, and engage meaningfully in the political process. We do not doubt that our leaders will come through as they did so impressively here.  

We are honored to have brought this first-of-its-kind civil rights lawsuit in partnership with Morrison & Foerster and alongside community partners and courageous families across California. Our gratitude extends to Stanford researchers Thomas Dee and Sarah Novicoff for their groundbreaking research on this critical issue. Together, we are laying the foundation for a future where literacy and education are accessible to all our children.

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