Morrison & Foerster Continues Advocacy for Literacy Reform for Underserved Students in California

03/16/2018

MoFo News Item

Morrison & Foerster is continuing its long tradition of advocacy for educational equity in California with Ella T. v. State of California, a landmark education case brought under the California Constitution that seeks to vindicate the right of all students to access literacy.   

Filed in Los Angeles by Public Counsel and Morrison & Foerster on behalf of students from three different schools, as well as advocacy organizations CADRE and Fathers & Families of San Joaquin, the case demands that the State of California ensure all California students receive evidence-based literacy instruction at the elementary and secondary level, along with the conditions necessary to support learning and teaching. The lawsuit claims the state has violated the fundamental right to education of these children, who are mostly low-income, and students of color, by depriving them of access to the most fundamental educational building block: literacy.

MoFo assembled a team of attorneys dedicated to California education reform

Morrison Foerster partner Michael A. Jacobs, co-founder and current co-chair of the firm’s Intellectual Property Group, leads MoFo’s Ella T. v. State of California team of attorneys. He previously served as co-lead counsel in the landmark Williams v. California lawsuit of 2000, which achieved a settlement in which California was required to undertake actions to address shocking conditions in the state’s lowest-performing schools. Jacobs outlined that: “When putting together MoFo’s team, we drew upon the talents of those interested in education litigation reform. MoFo takes pro bono seriously, is very thoughtful about the cases we take on, and gives us all an opportunity to contribute. I’ve personally had the opportunity to work with my MoFo colleagues to help expand educational opportunity in California, free a Guantanamo inmate, and assist the Jewish community and Anti-Defamation League in protecting religious freedom.”

MoFo building upon previous achievements in California education reform

“We took the Ella T. v State of California case on having already worked closely with Mark Rosenbaum of Public Counsel on the Williams v. California case,” Jacobs explained. “Public Counsel and MoFo complement each other and we are very pleased to be working together on this case. The data on literacy in California is so overwhelming and disheartening and we believe a concrete difference can be made if a focused, disciplined effort is made to solve the problem. State and local governments in California, some of which are more successful than others, need to do their job to ensure literacy is achieved for all students. The State has a constitutional and moral duty to teach all children to read and write. We intend this lawsuit to push toward that goal.”

MoFo helping to make California a better place

“Most of us chose law practice because we could contribute to society,” said Jacobs. I love my commercial cases, but MoFo takes pro bono seriously and gives us an opportunity to participate in the life of our polity. And what better way to contribute than helping make California a better place for upcoming generations?”

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