A Sacramento County Superior Court judge last week ordered the California state board of education to postpone its bold and expensive plan to require all 8th graders to be tested in algebra.
The board approved the first-in-the-nation mandate in July after a forceful last-minute recommendation from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican. The move was opposed by California’s schools superintendent, Jack O’Connell, and education groups questioned whether the state had the money, staff, and training to handle the requirement. (“California Board Mandates Algebra 1 for All 8th Graders”, July 16, 2008.)
Opponents argued that the decision was made hastily, and that the public did not have adequate time to comment. The California School Boards Association and the Association of California School Administrators sued in September.
In a ruling Oct. 28 granting a temporary restraining order, Judge Shelleyanne Chang agreed the two groups would “suffer irreparable injury before the matter can be heard” formally. She ordered the state school board not to make any further decisions on the algebra test until a Dec. 19 court hearing.
Scott Plotkin, the executive director of the school boards’ association, said the restraining order validates his belief that the board overstepped its authority.
“Prior to making their decision, the [state board] didn’t provide the public with an opportunity to express how such a change in policy will have significant ramifications for all aspects of the educational system,” he said.
Ted Mitchell, the president of the state board, said he had not yet seen the judge’s ruling, but he called the delay unfortunate.
A version of this article appeared in the November 05, 2008 edition of Education Week