It's a first-of-a-kind case in the US. A Christian law firm is seeking a judicial voucher that would allow a California child prodigy to receive a state-funded education.
Fourteen-year-old Levi Levy began college at age 7, passed the California High School Proficiency Exam at age 9, and is currently attending UCLA. However, Levy's mother, who is single and working, is unable to afford the full cost of his education and under California law, any child under the age of 16 is truant if he or she does not attend school.
So the Temecula-based Pro-Family Law Center has filed suit against the California Department of Education (CDE) on behalf of the Orthodox Jewish family. Why? Because the CDE, which provides a state-funded education to other children Levy's age, is refusing to extend the same benefit to the gifted child, saying it does not owe a “constitutional duty” to him.
The Law Center, however, contends the California Constitution requires that an education “suitable” to the specific needs of each child must be provided by the state and says failure to do so is a violation of the federal Equal Protection Clause. In its lawsuit, the Center is seeking a judicial voucher for Levy's university-level education.
Levy's attorney, Rick Ackerman, believes the case will force the public education system to re-evaluate itself and re-determine whether the “one-size-fits-all” approach is the best way to do things.
“Providing him with a UCLA education is the only way that the constitutional guarantee of a free and equal education can be met for him and it's that simple,” Ackerman says. “The one-size-fits-all approach to education is failing [Levy] in this case.”
Ackerman has strong words about such a methodology. “Just about anybody knows particularly in California and in some of the other bigger states like New York and Florida that the public school system is woefully inadequate to meet the needs of your quote-unquote 'average' student,” he says. “So now we have the situation that can set a precedent for students who are truly gifted.”
A favorable decision, he says, would offer a starting point for providing suitable education outside the current system “just like we sort of have for special-ed students, where we can get supplemental services that provide for their needs,” the attorney adds.
At a bare minimum, says Ackerman, the CDE ought to be required to provide for the young Levy's education to the same financial extent it is providing on a per-student basis to other public school children in the Golden State. According to the attorney, that amounts to between $6,000 and $7,000 per student.
A hearing will be held in the next few weeks to determine if the Pro-Family Law Center can proceed with its lawsuit. Regardless of the outcome of the case, Ackerman expects the decision will be appealed perhaps to the highest court in the land. “The upside to it is that it could lead ultimately to a US Supreme Court decision that results in a voucher for all students who qualify,” he says.
(This article courtesy of Agape Press).