PAUL L. TRACTENBERG is the Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor and the Alfred C. Clapp Distinguished Public Service Professor of Law at Rutgers Law School-Newark, where he has been a faculty member since 1970. In September 2002, he also was named the first Shuchman Empirical Research Fellow at the law school. Throughout his tenure at Rutgers, Professor Tractenberg has studied the major legal and policy issues involving public education, and has used the law to improve it, especially in the cities of New Jersey.
In 1973, with a major Ford Foundation grant, he founded the Education Law Center, a public interest project designed to assist students and parents. As its first director, Professor Tractenberg continued his work on New Jersey’s landmark school funding equalization litigation—Robinson v. Cahill and Abbott v. Burke. For the past 30 years, the Education Law Center has directly represented the state’s 350,000 urban students in the courts. Early in 2000, New Jersey lawyers and judges selected the Abbott case overwhelmingly as the most important state court decision of the 20th century. Twice in 2002, New York Times editorials described it as “the most significant education case since the [United States] Supreme Court’s desegregation ruling nearly 50 years ago.” Prof. Tractenberg continues to be centrally involved in this effort as an ELC trustee and an attorney of record. To date, he has argued before the New Jersey Supreme Court 14 times in this ongoing litigation effort, and has been called the dean of the state’s school finance and educational reform effort.
For many years, Professor Tractenberg has consulted regularly with state education departments and other education organizations on a wide range of issues, has spoken at conferences, and has published books and articles for scholarly audiences, legal and educational professionals, policy makers and the general public. In September 2000, he established the Institute on Education Law & Policy at Rutgers Law School in Newark.