Judge puts the brakes on Algebra I plan

California’s bold new algebra plan has a new variable.

Today, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Shelleyanne Chang ruled that the state board of education would have to temporarily delay the eighth-grade Algebra I testing requirement that it approved in July. (You know, the one that Schwarzenegger pushed for in the 11th hour, over State Superintendent Jack O’Connell’s strong objections?)

The ruling was made in response to a lawsuit to stop the new requirement. It was filed in September by the California School Boards Association and the Association of California School Administrators.

Chang has ordered the state board to hold off any any decisions on the algebra test until a court hearing on Dec. 19.

Here’s what O’Connell had to say this evening, in a news release. (I haven’t heard from the other side yet):

“I am pleased that the court has approved a temporary restraining order preventing the State Board of Education from implementing its decision to require all eighth grade students in California to take Algebra I. The Board made the decision in response to a letter from the Governor sent just hours before the Board met. I said at that time that there had not been adequate public notice or discussion for an issue of this magnitude. The Court found that these concerns were valid and stopped implementation of the Board’s plan until a full hearing can be held on the merits of the case in December.

“Algebra is a critical skill that all students must master. But, our public education system currently is not set up to provide the institutional support that schools, teachers, and students will need to ensure every student succeeds in Algebra I in the eighth grade. To do so would require significant investments to our system, costing billions of dollars. For example, California would have to double the number of middle school Algebra I teachers over the next three years. Given the growing budget shortfall in our state and the troubled national economic climate, which Governor Schwarzenegger is discussing with legislative leaders and key constituent groups just this week, it is unlikely that the Governor would be able to find the resources necessary to successfully implement the Algebra 1 mandate.”

Do you think Judge Chang made the right decision?

image from .raindrops.’s site at flickr.com/creativecommons

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Nextset

    I disagree with the governor’s algebra plan. Is this a case of the legislature clashing with the executive – or one more instance of the courts trying to legislate from the bench? This article does not do enough to explain to us what the basis of the court’s order is – where do they get jurisdiction over the issue, etc. If the state legislature has not required specific curriculum the school boards are free to run the schools as they please. And I’d prefer curriculum decisions be made locally, with only the minimum standards set by state legislation. Does anyone have more info on how the court fight is structured here?

  • Nextset

    Katy, here’s a new issue for you to pursue. I just talked to a mother who has a 13 year old daughter. They belong to Kaiser for health care and she took the girl in to the Dr wanting a complete drug screen as well as a full physical because of serious and significant behavioral changes. I am informed that Kaiser refused to conduct the screening citing the 13 year old’s privacy rights.

    Things have turned so badly with this girl that she may be thrown out of/removed from her public school and sent to a continuation or alternative school – they family has to get to the bottom of whatever is wrong and make decisions about what to do. And they are being told that they can’t get medical workups on their kid because of privacy rights?? The kid is being referred for a psych workup – but the parents were refused the drug screen.

    I’ve always told people to stay away from Kaiser but Kaiser seems to own most of the blue collar workers in the state now. How are the parents supposed to intervene when they are refused services like this?