The opinion of the court was delivered by: ORRICK
To have the privilege of teaching in a public school in California, a person must pass a test in reading, writing, and mathematics known as the California Basic Educational Skills Test ("CBEST"), given by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing ("CTC"). The CBEST was mandated by the California legislature in response to a public outcry about the perceived incompetence of many public school teachers.
Plaintiffs, representing a class of minority would-be teachers consisting of African-Americans, Latinos,
and Asians, bring this action against the State of California ("State") and the CTC under Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, claiming that they are discriminated against by the insistence of defendants that they take and pass the CBEST before becoming public schoolteachers.
For the reasons set forth in this Opinion, which constitutes the Court's findings of fact and conclusions of law as required by Rule 52(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court rules in favor of defendants.
Effective February 1, 1983, the State legislature barred the CTC from issuing "any credential, permit, certificate, or renewal of an emergency credential to any person to serve in the public schools unless the person has demonstrated proficiency in basic reading, writing, and mathematics skills." Cal. Educ. Code § 44252(b). The legislature authorized the Superintendent of Public Instruction ("Superintendent") to "adopt an appropriate state test to measure proficiency in these basic skills." Id. § 44252(c). The CBEST was the result.
The CBEST is a pass-fail examination. It contains three sections -- reading, writing, and mathematics. The reading and mathematics sections each contain 40 multiple-choice questions.
The writing portion consists of two essay questions. The CBEST has undergone one major revision: The "higher order" math skills, such as geometry, were removed from the mathematics subtest prior to the first administration of the revised CBEST in August 1995.
A passing score on the CBEST is required for elementary school teachers, who hold multiple-subject credentials, and for secondary school teachers, who hold single-subject credentials in the areas of agriculture, art, business, English, foreign languages, health science, home economics, industrial and technology education, mathematics, music, physical education, science, and social science. See Cal. Educ. Code §§ 44256, 44257, 44259. The CBEST is also required for numerous nonteaching positions, including administrators, id. § 44270, school counselors or "pupil personnel services" positions, id. § 44266, librarians, id. § 44269, and school nurses, id. § 44267.5.
The CBEST is administered six times a year, and there is no limit on the number of times a candidate may sit for the examination. Furthermore, a candidate keeps his or her best score on any given section and need only retake the failed sections; once the candidate has accumulated a passing score on all three sections, the candidate has passed the CBEST. See id. § 44252.5(d).
In this case, the plaintiff class was certified by the Court as follows:
All Latinos, African Americans and Asians who have sought or are seeking California public school credentials and certificated positions who have been, are being, or will be adversely affected in their ability to obtain credentials and certificated positions by California Basic Educational Skills Test results.
(See Mem. Decision & Order filed July 19, 1994, at 22, as amended by Order filed Oct. 7, 1994.)
The eight individual plaintiffs in this lawsuit are all members of minority groups, seeking teaching or administrative credentials, who contend they were discriminated against as a result of the CBEST requirement. Each individual plaintiff has taken and failed the CBEST one or more times. Three of the plaintiffs eventually passed the CBEST.
Plaintiff Sara MacNeil Boyd ("Boyd"), an African-American woman, took and failed the CBEST four times. Boyd received her bachelor's degree in commerce from North Carolina Central University in 1955. She has credentials for secondary education and counseling/pupil personnel services. She completed both a master's degree in education and an administrative credentialing program at San Jose State University, but was unable to get an administrative credential because she could not pass the CBEST. By obtaining annual CBEST waivers from the CTC, however, Boyd was able to serve as a vice-principal from 1988 until her retirement in 1995.
Plaintiff Sam Genis ("Genis"), a Latino man, took and failed the CBEST four times. Genis earned his associate's degree from East Los Angeles College in 1976. He then obtained a bachelor's degree in Spanish from California State University, Los Angeles in 1979. From 1980 to 1983, he taught at Rio Vista Elementary School in the El Rancho Unified School District, but was unable to continue there because he had not passed the CBEST. He has since worked in private schools.
Plaintiff Agnes Haynes ("Haynes"), an African-American woman, took and failed the CBEST six times between 1991 and 1993, but subsequently passed. Haynes received a bachelor's degree in secondary education from Grambling College in Louisiana in 1964. She completed a master's degree in educational administration and an administrative credentialing program at San Francisco State University in 1995. By obtaining CBEST waivers, Haynes worked as an eighth-grade English and social studies teacher for two years in the Ravenswood City School District. She subsequently lost her teaching position because she had not passed the CBEST. She has since passed the test.
Plaintiff Diana Kwan ("Kwan"), an Asian woman, took and failed the CBEST four times. Kwan obtained an associate's degree from the City College of San Francisco in 1988 and a bachelor's degree in liberal studies from San Francisco State University in 1991. She has not entered a teacher preparation program because the program of her choice requires passage of the CBEST for admittance.
Kwan currently works as a flight attendant for United Air Lines.
Plaintiff Marta Leclaire ("Leclaire"), who is Latina, took and failed the CBEST four times. Leclaire received an associate's degree from City College of San Francisco in 1972. She earned her bachelor's degree at San Francisco State University in developmental psychology in 1976. She completed a teacher credentialing program in multiple subjects/elementary education at San Francisco State University in 1978, but could not obtain a multiple-subject credential because she has not passed the CBEST. Leclaire does possess a general school services credential, which allows her to teach in child centers.
Plaintiff Antoinette Williams, an African-American woman, took the CBEST once in 1992 and failed it. She received her bachelor's degree in sociology from Fontbonne College in Missouri in 1979. She seeks a substitute teaching credential but has not been able to obtain one because she has not passed the CBEST.
Plaintiff Toua Yang ("Yang"), an Asian male, took and failed the CBEST seventeen times between 1991 and 1995. He has since passed the test. Yang received an associate's degree from Merced College in 1989. He earned a bachelor's degree in liberal studies from California State University, Sacramento in 1992. He also completed a teacher credentialing program at California State University, Sacramento, but was not credentialed because he did not pass the CBEST test (until 1995). Yang has served as a substitute teacher in the Sacramento City Unified School District since 1994.
The Court conducted the trial in two phases. The first phase consisted of the testimony of fact witnesses and took place over five days in February and March 1996. The second phase, during which expert testimony was presented, took place from June 3 to June 19, 1996.
"The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future life." Plato, The ...