Why We Care About School Funding
It seems like a no-brainer. It is to everyone’s benefit to have our children educated for active participation in our communities, our economy and our democracy. So why are we in a 50+ year battle for quality schools in all our communities across this nation?
We’ve successfully outlawed outright racial discrimination in schools through the courts in Brown v Board of Education. But we’re mired in a continuing battle in New Jersey to bring quality education to all our schools with sufficient resources for all our children. Research tells us that poor children, children with disabilities and English language learners require more supports to learn at high levels. In New Jersey , it has required a series of state Supreme Court rulings starting in 1985 called Abbott v. Burke to shape and reshape education — especially for New Jersey’s poorest kids.
Abbott v. Burke…
The state Supreme Court’s landmark school-equity rulings starting in 1985, referred to in shorthand as “Abbott,” as in Abbott district or Abbott school. Actually a series of decisions made over the past 30 years, Abbott remains the centerpiece of how the state funds its urban and suburban schools, including Paterson. Abbott’s core principle is to ensure that schools in 31 of the New Jersey’s poorest communities receive the “thorough and efficient” system of education guaranteed by the state constitution. It was Abbott that led to universal preschool in the state’s poorest districts, the state’s massive school construction and renovation program, and the addition of extra programs and funding for the disadvantaged initiatives in and outside Abbott schools.
…and the School Funding Reform Act of 2008 [SFRA]
In 2009, the court ruled as part of its Abbott v. Burke deliberations that the state’s existing school funding formula met its constitutional standards under Abbott, and then two years later in 2011, ordered that Gov. Chris Christie and the Legislature had to provide an additional $477 million to Abbott districts to meet the provisions of the funding law.
Attempts to change the SFRA
Governor Christie remains hostile to the Abbott decision, and the governor has vowed to remake the state Supreme Court and ultimately reverse its decrees, including Abbott and the SFRA.
In order to change the School Funding Reform Act, the Governor must convince the legislators to pass new laws. Join PEF and our allies, the Education Law Center, Parent Education Organizing Council and Save Our Schools NJ in supporting, monitoring and advocating for All our children.