By Lemor Abrams

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Advocates are suing California, claiming too many students are failing to read and write.

The plaintiffs include students, teachers, and parents from some of the poorest- performing schools in California.

Two are in Los Angeles, and one is in Stockton.

LAWSUIT: Ella T. v California Complaint

The student plaintiffs remain anonymous, but their writing samples speak for themselves. One is the work of a second-grade student, identified as Ella T. from La Salle Avenue Elementary in Los Angeles.

Ella wrote a letter to the governor, but she can’t spell basic words or write complete sentences.

“Ella T. herself started the first grade behind, and by the end of the first grade she was actually doing worse than when she first started,” said Barbara Barath of Morrison and Foerster.

Barath is one of several attorneys representing Ella T. and other students who can’t read and write.

They’re suing the State Department of Education, claiming California schools are in a literary crisis.

“Ultimately, the state is responsible,” she said.

The lawsuit says the state fails to intervene when a child falls behind.

“Intervention would basically mean that if you identify the problem in the school, you would go in and intervene and help those students, but most of the students we’re representing have asked for help and have been denied help,” said Barath.

Case in point, she says 26 districts in the nation are considered low-performing. Eleven of them are in California.

“[The suit is] basically just making sure that kids get their constitutional right to an education,” said Barath.

But the California Department of Education says they do.

A spokesman issued a statement reading in part:

“California has one of the most ambitious programs in the nation to serve low-income students.”

Officials say the state invests $10 billion annually for English language learners, students from low-income families, and foster kids. But exactly what the state is investing in is unclear.

The state superintendent Tom Torlakson declined to comment on the litigation.

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