On May 23, the Public Education Institute (PEI) sponsored a program entitled “A Conversation on New Jersey School Funding:  Past, Present and Future.”  The program, held on the Princeton campus of the Educational Testing Service (ETS), was co-sponsored by PEI, ETS, the New Jersey School Boards Association, and the Institute on Education Law and Policy.  Included on the panel were lawyers, legislators, finance experts and others who have been involved with school funding litigation and policy in the state, such as former governor Jim Florio; Al Burstein, former Assemblyman and Chairman of the Education Committee; Cliff Goldman, former State Treasurer; Gary Stein, former Associate Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court; and Rutgers Professor Emeritus Ernest Reock. 

The discussion was moderated by Rutgers Professor Henry Coleman, who challenged the panelists to tell the audience what worked and what didn’t; what, in hindsight, they would have done differently; what options were not chosen; and what advice they would give to the current governor, legislature and supreme court.  The panelists were candid in their assessment, acknowledging that the state’s fiscal condition is now worse than at other times in recent history, and advocating strengthening the capacity of the Department of Education as well as local school districts. 



On May 22, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued an order clarifying its order of May 9, in which it had granted the state’s motion for approval to freeze supplemental funding for Abbott districts.  The May 22 order sets a 14-day limit for State Education Department (NJDOE) decisions on Abbott district budget appeals. 

It also directs NJDOE to fund the opening expenses for all new and renovated school facilities scheduled to come online in FY 2007 by 1) applying the $23 million in Educational Opportunity Aid that is expected from increased tax levies in some Abbott districts; and 2) providing the additional necessary funds above the districts' flat budgets.

The Court denied other requests for clarification of the May 9 order sought by 16 Abbott school districts, including a request for clarification as to whether the Court had intended to grant or deny the State’s request to increase the tax levy in eight Abbott districts.  Since the increased levies are otherwise mentioned in the Court’s order, the Court apparently has granted its approval without doing so explicitly.

Related Documents:

Abbott v. Burke Order, New Jersey Supreme Court (5/22/2006)
Abbott v. Burke Order, New Jersey Supreme Court (5/9/2006)



The Brookings Institute, together with New Jersey Future, has issued an in-depth analysis of the state’s competitive position in a report entitled “Prosperity at Risk:  Toward a Competitive New Jersey.”  According to the report, New Jersey continues to rank high in a number of traditional economic indicators, such as income level, homeownership, education level and employment.  But the state is plagued by low wage growth and loss of high wage jobs such as those in high tech industries.  These factors lead to rising housing prices, lengthened commutes, low education levels, and concentrated areas of poverty, all of which are causing the state to lose its competitive edge.  

The report recommends decisive state action be taken to address these issues, such as providing more housing choices, promoting better development patterns, and reducing the disparities that come about due to race and class, which lead to urban decay and disinvestment. 

Related Documents:

Prosperity at Risk:  Toward a Competitive New Jersey (5/2006)


On June 1, the National Center for Education Statistics released “The Condition of Education 2006.”  The report uses the latest available data to summarize important developments and trends in education within five main areas:   (1) participation in education; (2) learner outcomes; (3) student effort and educational progress; (4) the contexts of elementary and secondary education; and (5) the contexts of postsecondary education.  It presents 50 indicators on the status and condition of education and a special analysis on international assessments, and states “[these] indicators represent a consensus of professional judgment on the most significant national measures of the condition and progress of education for which accurate data are available.”

Related Documents:

The Condition of Education 2006 (6/1/2006)



The National Inner City Conference of the Canadian Council for Inner City Education will take place from April 19-21, 2007 in Toronto, Canada.  Entitled “Inner City:  Strength in Diversity – Advocating for the Future,” the conference will highlight work of inner city teachers, students and families in Toronto, across Canada, and elsewhere in the world.  It will focus on the work of community organizations that support inner city students and their families. 

A call for contributions has been issued.  Presentations, workshops, dialogues and papers may be submitted on topics such as student leadership and well-being, teaching practice and development in the inner city, curriculum and programs, and funding and policy.

For more information on the conference, contact Jeff Kugler, Executive Director, Centre for Urban Schooling, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto at


It’s time now to register for the 13th annual Education Law Conference, July 24-27 at the University of Southern Maine in Portland.  This nationally known conference serves both educators and lawyers by showing each the realities of the other’s world—educators become more aware of the law they need to know, and lawyers learn more of the realities facing educators.  The conference consistently attracts recognized experts and speakers, and provides rich opportunities to exchange ideas.  Keynote speakers this year include Andrew J. Rotherham, director of Educator Sector, Hon. Morrison England, U.S.D.J., of the Eastern District of California, and Barbara Perry, Carter Glass Professor of Government at Sweet Briar College.  For more information on the conference, including registration information and a full list of sessions and speakers, go to



A study released earlier this month by the Harvard Civil Rights Project finds that No Child Left Behind Act has not improved reading and mathematical achievement or narrowed racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps, and concludes that if these trends continue, NCLB will not meet its goals of 100 percent proficiency by 2014.

According to the study, Tracking Achievement Gaps and Assessing the Impact of NCLB on the Gaps: An In-depth Look into National and State Reading and Math Outcome, there is a disconnect between the various tests used by states to measure proficiency and results from the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), the only independent national test that randomly samples students across the country.  Under NCLB, states decide which tests to use to measure proficiency, and are required to sanction low-performing schools. The report shows that since NCLB's adoption state assessment results show improvements in math and reading but NAEP results don't show similar gains.

Related Documents:

Tracking Achievement Gaps and Assessing the Impact of NCLB on the Gaps: An In-depth Look into National and State Reading and Math Outcome (6/14/2006)


In their new book, “Cutting Through the Hype” (Education Week Press, 2006), Jane David and Larry Cuban explore what it takes to actually make school reform work.  The book discusses public school reform from the layperson’s point of view, by analyzing 20 different "hot" reforms, such as mayoral reform and parent choice to teaching reading and math.  They show how each good idea can be strengthened through a better understanding of how it is translated into policies, and how those policies in turn get translated in the classrooms.  They urge policymakers and reformers to ask: Does the reform make sense?  Can the reform actually work in classrooms? Are the conditions for success in place?  Sample chapters, reviews and ordering information can be found at





A new WestEd Policy Perspectives paper by Richard Rothstein says school reforms designed to close the achievement gap among our nation's children must be supplemented by social and economic reform in order to succeed.

In addition to school improvement, Rothstein identifies six areas of reform that could help narrow the achievement gap:

 - Greater Income Equality to provide higher incomes for adults in low-wage jobs;

- Stable, Adequate Housing to decrease the mobility that disrupts learning;

- School-Community Clinics to increase access to high-quality health care and address health problems that impede learning;

- Early Childhood Education to provide high-quality infant/toddler and pre-school programs so that low-income children enter school ready to learn;

- After-School Programs to improve physical, social/emotional, and academic skills; and

- Summer Programs to provide lower-income children with summer experiences such as recreational reading, organized sports, travel, camp, and visits to museums.

The report goes on to say that funding these reforms would be more effective in narrowing achievement gaps than concentrating resources solely on traditional, stand-alone school reform efforts such as smaller class size and higher teacher pay. "We exclusively target schools for reform because we wrongly assume that schools must be the sole cause of persistent achievement gaps," says Rothstein. "But the achievement gaps between middle and lower income students, and between black and white students, cannot be eliminated unless we also tackle the causes of these gaps which lie outside the schoolhouse door…Schools, no matter how good, cannot carry the entire burden of narrowing our substantial, and growing, income inequalities and social class differences."

Related Documents:
WestEd Policy Perspectives: Reforms That Could Narrow The Achievement Gap (6/2006)


A new study by the Education Trust finds what anecdotal evidence has long suggested:  highly qualified teachers improve student achievement.  The study finds that elementary and high school students – even those in middle- and upper-income families -- score higher on standardized tests and are more prepared for college if they attend schools where teacher quality is ranked high. The study also finds that low-income and minority children benefit the most from good teachers. 

The report, Teaching Inequality: How Poor and Minority Students Are Shortchanged on Teacher Quality, ranks schools in Illinois, Wisconsin and Ohio on a teacher quality index.  In Illinois the index was based on factors such as teachers’ performance on college-admissions tests, selectivity of the college they attended and the percentage of teachers in each school who passed the state certification exam on the first try.  Results from this state were among the most dramatic, showing that students in the highest-minority and highest-poverty schools are assigned teachers of significantly lower quality than their counterparts in schools serving few low-income students and students of color. 

Related Documents:

Teaching Inequality:  How Poor and Minority Students Are Shortchanged on Teacher Quality (6/2006)



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