ARCHIVE FOR JULY 2006
COALITION ISSUES CALL FOR GREATER ACCOUNTABILITY OF ABBOTT REFORM EFFORTS (7/10/2006)
A coalition of school reform organizations has issued a statement calling for greater accountability on the part of the State for the remedies mandated by the Supreme Court in Abbott v. Burke eight years ago.
The statement reads in part: “To ensure that the Abbott remedies are fully implemented and not merely given lip service, Governor Corzine must publicly commit to account for his administration's performance under Abbott.” It sets out a “State Abbott Accountability Agenda,” and calls for the Governor to implement that agenda promptly. The agenda includes new Abbott leadership and management; an evaluation of Abbott implementation; progress benchmarks; community report cards; and a statewide student-level database.
The coalition included the Abbott Leadership Institute, Association for Children of New Jersey, Black Ministers' Council of New Jersey, Education Law Center, New Jersey Black Issues Convention, NJ-NAACP, Paterson Education Fund, Statewide Education Organizing Committee, and Statewide Parent Advocacy Network.
School Reform Advocates Call For Greater Accountability of Reform Efforts (6/14/2006)
CENTURY FOUNDATION REPORT CALLS FOR REVISION OF NCLB (7/10/2006)
A new report from The Century Foundation calls for revisions to No Child Left Behind to enable more low-income students to transfer to “good middle-class public schools,” and to encourage such schools to accept students transferring from other districts. The report, “Helping Children Move from Bad Schools to Good Ones,” says “providing more choice to children trapped in failing schools is the right approach, but choice should focus on high-quality, accountable public schools, which have served students well and helped sustain American democracy for generations.”
Written by TCF Senior Fellow Richard D. Kahlenberg, the report discusses the challenges of educating students in schools with high concentrations of poverty and the benefits of economic integration; reviews successful efforts to address these challenges; and suggests specific changes to No Child Left Behind that would provide the opportunity for more children to attend economically integrated public schools.
“Helping Children Move from Bad Schools to Good Ones (6/15/2006)
GOVERNOR NOMINATES LUCILLE DAVY AS COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION (7/12/2006)
On Tuesday, July 11, Governor Jon Corzine nominated Acting Commissioner Lucille Davy to serve as the New Jersey Commissioner of Education. Davy had served as special counsel for education policy to Governors James E. McGreevey and Richard Codey. In September 2005, Governor Codey appointed her as Acting Commissioner of Education, a position she continued to hold when Governor Corzine took office in January. The announcement was received positively by constituency groups.
If the nomination is approved, which appears likely, Davy will assume control of the department at a time when several major issues are coming to a head: school finance, accountability, choice, secondary school reform, and teacher quality.
Star-Ledger: Governor Sticks Close To Home To Fill His Cabinet (7/12/2006)
LAWSUIT CLAIMING CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO CHOICE FILED IN SUPERIOR COURT (7/14/2006)
Lawyers for plaintiff schoolchildren in a recently filed lawsuit claim that interdistrict public school choice and “private school choice” are not only desirable but constitutional entitlements for children in “failing” public schools.
Crawford v. Davy, filed July 13, 2006 in the Superior Court, Chancery Division, Essex County, is a putative class action filed on behalf of “all children attending failing schools in the state of new Jersey” against the Commissioner of Education, other state officials and 25 local boards of education. The plaintiffs allege that “[a] constitutionally adequate system of education cannot be maintained so long as plaintiff school children lack meaningful choice to exit the public school that is failing them in favor of a successful school”; that “[i]n many instances there will be insufficient successful public schools within a child’s school district to accommodate all of the students who exercise the right to leave their failing schools”; and that “[e]ven if district boundaries and mandatory attendance zones are eliminated as a basis for assigning students to failing schools, insufficient alternatives may exist within a reasonable distance from a child’s home unless private schools are included. They seek “an injunction barring defendants from enforcing compulsory district boundaries and attendance zones where they operate to trap plaintiff school children in failing schools” and “an Order that allow them to immediately use their share of per-pupil State and local funding to attend successful public and private schools in New Jersey.” The basis of their claims is the Thorough and Efficient Clause of the state constitution and state and federal equal protection clauses.
The suit is backed by the Alliance for School Choice, a Phoenix-based group; the Black Minister's Council of New Jersey; the Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey; and Excellent Education for Everyone.
Class Action Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief (7/13/2006)
EDUCATION LAW CENTER FILES SUIT SEEKING RELEASE OF SCHOOL FUNDING STUDY (7/21/06)
On July 17, the Education Law Center filed a complaint in the Superior Court, Law Division, Mercer County, seeking the release of a 2003 study of the cost of educating New Jersey’s public school students prepared for the New Jersey Department of Education. The study was prepared with the assistance of John Augenblick, a school finance consultant based in Colorado, reportedly at a cost of over one hundred thousand dollars, but was never released by the Department.
ELC is seeking the release of the study before the Legislature begins its deliberations on a new school funding formula. It had requested a copy under the Open Public Records Act (OPRA), but the Department denied the request, claiming the study was exempt from OPRA since it was “deliberative” in nature.
The Department has declined to comment on the suit, according to the Star-Ledger.
Education Law Center: NJDOE Refuses to Release Education Cost Study (7/18/2006)
Star-Ledger: Advocates Sue for Release of Report on School Funding (7/19/2006)
STUDY FINDS PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SCHOOL STUDENTS PERFORM ALMOST EQUALLY (7/21/06)
A study issued this week by the National Center for Education Statistics finds that students in public schools perform nearly the same in reading and mathematics tests as students in private schools.
The study, The Nation’s Report Card: Comparing Private Schools and Public Schools Using Hierarchical Linear Modeling, examines differences between mean National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores for fourth and eighth grade students in public and private schools when specific student and school characteristics were taken into account. The characteristics included race/ethnicity, gender, disability status and identification as an English language learner, as well as school size and location, and composition of the student body and teaching staff. Adjusting for these factors, public school students performed better in fourth-grade math, private school students performed better in eighth grade reading, and there was no significant difference in performance in fourth-grade reading or eighth grade math.
The study’s authors caution against over-interpreting the data: “When interpreting the results from any of these analyses, it should be borne in mind that private schools constitute a heterogeneous category and may differ from one another as much as they differ from pubic schools. Public schools also constitute a heterogeneous category. Consequently, an overall comparison of the two types of schools is of modest utility.”
The Nation's Report Card: Comparing Private Schools and Public Schools Using Hierarchical Linear Modeling (7/2006)
NJ LEGISLATURE LAUNCHES SPECIAL SESSION ON PROPERTY TAX REFORM (7/31/2006)
On July 28, following an address by Governor Corzine, the New Jersey legislature adopted Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 3, establishing four joint legislature committees to make recommendations on proposals to address property tax reform.
The joint committees will consider four broad topics: 1) public school funding reform, to address the manner in which government provides for the maintenance and support of a system of free public schools, and consider proposals such as basing state support on student needs rather than geographic location, eliminating disincentives to the regionalization of school districts, controlling school district spending, and improving the effectiveness of the current law limiting increases in school district spending; 2) government consolidation and shared services, to reveiew proposals regarding shared services and regionalization at all levels of government; 3) public employee benefits reform, which will address abuses of the system of benefits provided to public employees and seek to control the costs of the State and its political subdivisions for public employee retirement, health care and other benefits; and 4) a citizens’ convention and constitution reform, which will consider proposals to address property tax reform through amendments to the state constitution.
Committee members and agendas have not yet been announced.
Governor Corzine’s Address to Joint Legislative Session (7/28/2006)
Special Session on Property Tax Reform (7/28/2006)