On February 10, 2011, Dr Alan Sadovnik gave a talk entitled "A Gift Horse Whose [Mouth] and Face(book) Deserves Scrutiny: Will Mark Zuckerberg's $100 Million Gift Improve Education in Newark?" for the Interdisciplinary Lecture Series in Education Studies at The New School.

A full copy of Dr. Sadovnik's presentation is availiable at:


Reviewed by Alan Sadovnik for the National Education Policy Center

A report published by the Lexington Institute presents findings on the effectiveness of New Jersey’s Abbott v. Burke court decisions from the late 1990s through 2009. The report argues that the reforms ordered by the state’s supreme court failed to significantly increase student achievement despite what it terms as dramatic increases in spending. Based on these findings, the report argues that the increases in spending in these urban districts and their continued dismal student achievement rates make New Jersey, and particularly Newark, ideal for instituting a number of reforms. These advocated reforms include parental empowerment, increases in the number of charter schools, changes in teacher union contracts, and the enactment of private school choice policies (e.g., vouchers). The report cannot stand as a research document and provides little or no empirical evidence to support its critiques of Abbott or its recommendations for reform. It omits important parts of the existing research literature, such as NAEP data showing New Jersey as high performing and as closing the achievement gap. The Lexington report contains no methodology to speak of. Overall, the report has little or no use for informing educational reform in Newark, New Jersey or nationally.

A full copy of this report is available at


Dr. Alan Sadovnik

New York City Resident Teaches at School of Public Administration, Newark

The Rutgers University Board of Governors has named Alan Sadovnik a Distinguished Service Professor, one of the highest honors that the university can bestow upon a professor.  Sadovnik, a professor of education, sociology and public administration and affairs, is an internationally distinguished scholar in the sociology of education on the faculty of the School of Public Affairs and Administration and the Department of  Urban Education.  The honor was awarded to Sadovnik today at the Rutgers Board of Governors’ December meeting.

The board’s action recognizes, in part, Sadovnik’s “groundbreaking intellectual accomplishments and his innovative application of his scholarship on the sociology of education to significant policy issues.” In its resolution honoring  Sadovnik, the board also cited his “outstanding leadership in addressing international, national, state and local problems in areas related to education, such as accountability, governance, finance, school choice and school effectiveness.”

In accepting the award, Sadovnik stated, “It is an honor to receive the title of Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor.  In my 10 years at Rutgers-Newark, I am pleased to have become part of Rutgers-Newark Chancellor Steven Diner’s commitment to urban research and university-city collaborations, and to his vision to make Rutgers-Newark the leading urban university in the country.”  

The New York City resident told the board that he accepted the honor on behalf of his late mother, Ruth Haas Sadovnik, who escaped Berlin in 1939 at the age of 11 on the Kindertransport, then spent her life working to ensure that “the world would never forget the atrocities of the Holocaust.”  He noted, “My receiving a university professorship for service would have made her prouder than any other type of honor, and in receiving it, I honor her life of sacrifice, commitment and service.”

Sadovnik is co-director of the Institute on Educational Law and Policy (IELP) and the Newark Schools Research Collaborative, and helped establish an accredited Urban Systems doctoral program, with a track in educational policy, at Rutgers University, Newark.  Since coming to Rutgers in 2000, his research and public service have made a lasting, and beneficial, impact on Newark and New Jersey urban school districts.  “Alan Sadovnik’s research, combined with his educational leadership through IELP and the Research Collaborative, have made a huge impact on both Newark and the State of New Jersey in the effort to bridge the achievement gaps between urban and suburban school districts,” according to Rutgers-Newark Chancellor Steven J. Diner. “His research exemplifies the important collaboration between Rutgers-Newark and the Newark Public Schools.”

He added, “Rutgers is helping to lead New Jersey’s efforts to provide equitable educational opportunities to urban students, and Alan Sadovnik’s scholarship is crucial to this effort.” 

The research has made important  recommendations for New Jersey and Newark educational policy, and in some cases have directly affected procedures and law in New Jersey. For instance,  a 2002 report issued by IELP ,  on reestablishing local control in school districts that had been taken over by the state, resulted in a committee recommending a new governance accountability law, which has since been passed by the State legislature.

Sadovnik received his bachelor’s degree in sociology from Queens College of the City University of New York, and master’s and doctoral degrees in sociology from New York University. He is the author of Equity and Excellence in Higher Education (1995); coauthor of Exploring Education: An Introduction to the Foundations of Education (1994, 2001, 2006); editor of Knowledge and Pedagogy: The Sociology of Basil Bernstein (1995) and Sociology of Education: A Critical Reader (2007; 2010); and coeditor of Exploring Society (1987), International Handbook of Educational Reform (1992), Implementing Educational Reform: Sociological Perspectives on Educational Reform (1995), “Schools of Tomorrow,” Schools of Today: What Happened to Progressive Education (1999), Sociology and Education: An Encyclopedia (2002), Founding Mothers and Others: Women Educational Leaders During the Progressive Era (2002) and No Child Left Behind and the Reduction of the Achievement Gap: Sociological Perspectives on Federal Educational Policy (2008).


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