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Published in Print: August 4, 1999, as ACLU Files Suit Over AP Offerings in Calif. Schools

ACLU Files Suit Over AP Offerings in Calif. Schools

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California schools are violating the state constitution because they fail to give minority students adequate chances to enroll in Advanced Placement courses, the American Civil Liberties Union has charged in a lawsuit.

High schools with predominantly minority student populations offer fewer opportunities than schools with mostly white students to enroll in AP courses, making it more difficult for blacks and Hispanics to achieve success in college, the Southern California branch of the ACLU says in the suit. It was filed July 27 in a state court in Los Angeles.

The AP program allows high school students to earn college credit by taking yearlong courses in certain subjects and passing standardized tests in them. The College Board, the New York City organization that sponsors the SAT, offers the program.

In California, the program is especially important, the ACLU argues, because the University of California system gives extra weight to grades in AP classes when making admission decisions.

Delaine Eastin, the state superintendent of public instruction, supports policies to reverse the inequities, said Michael E. Hersher, the general counsel for the California Department of Education.

But she and other state officials are unlikely to back a solution that requires school districts to expand their AP offerings.

"It's one thing to advocate, and another thing to say that the state is going to add this to the growing list of things it's going to mandate," Mr. Hersher said last week.

--David J. Hoff

Vol. 18, Issue 43, Page 13

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