OAKLAND (CBS SF) – Two Oakland students are part of a lawsuit that claims that countless hours of classroom instruction are being lost at under-performing schools in the state.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California is suing the State of California and education officials in Alameda County Superior Court on behalf of students at seven schools claiming that the lack of teaching time “slowly rob[s] students of an equal education.”

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The ACLU claims that several low-performing schools are essentially operated as part-time learning facilities.

“With no requirement or tracking of actual learning time, many students in underperforming schools receive less education than students in higher performing schools,” the ACLU of Southern California claims on their website.

ACLU representatives say the students are enrolled in classed that “teach no subjects” and that students “are not scheduled into real classes for weeks into their semester while they sit in lunchrooms instead of classrooms.”

The suit claims that students are often enrolled in “service periods” where they sacrifice class time for errand running and paperwork on behalf of the school rather than instruction. They say poor handling of violence on campus, high teacher turnover and a low attendance based on a perception that the state has given up on them also limit learning time.

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“Our children are not disposable. They still need their education. This is their future in a very real sense. To know that our students’ instructional time is wasted is a problem for me and should be a problem for everyone in our state,” said Danielle Dixon, a special education teacher at Castlemont High School in Oakland told the ACLU. “Castlemont and all schools can work. It’s about investing in the resources to make them work.”

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that a senior from a second Oakland school, Fremont High School, has also joined the suit.

Backers of the lawsuit say it’s time management rather than funds that create the problem. They’re asking for new state policies regulating instruction time.

“We encourage the ACLU to continue to communicate with us at the state and, more importantly, to work with local school districts about the best ways to support local students and improve educational outcomes,” Superintendent Tom Torlakson and state Board of Education President Mike Kirst in a joint statement.

School officials say their focus is on putting local educators in charge of the learning process rather than creating new oversight from Sacramento.

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