The Institute on Education Law and Policy, in conjunction with the New Jersey State Bar Association, the Public Education Institute and others are pleased to present “Equalizing Educational Opportunity in New Jersey: A Conversation with Five Former Supreme Court Justices about Abbott v. Burke.” Moderated by Professor Paul Tractenberg of IELP, the panel will consist of former Chief Justice Deborah Poritz and former Associate Justices James Coleman, Alan Handler, Daniel O’Hern and Gary Stein. All will share their reflections and views on what continues to be viewed by many as the most important state court decision of the 20th century.

The program will take place at the New Jersey State Bar Association in New Brunswick, on Wednesday, September 19 from 8:30am – 12:00pm. Questions and comments from the audience will be encouraged. Pre-registration is requested. To do so, please e-mail


Last week, NJ Commissioner of Education Lucille Davy announced that 99 percent of New Jersey teachers meet the designation of “highly qualified.”  The No Child Left Behind Act requires that 100 percent of teachers meet the standard of highly qualified in every subject that they teach, a requirement no state has yet achieved. 

In order to meet this standard, teachers are required to:

1.      Have a bachelors degree;

2.      Have a valid state certification for which no requirements have been waived; and

3.      Demonstrate content expertise in the subjects they teach through federal criteria set out by NCLB.

In addition to these results, New Jersey also reported dramatic gains in closing the gap between the number of classes taught by highly qualified teachers in high poverty schools versus low poverty schools.  The gap reported was 1.6 percent in 2006-07, down from 10 percent in 2004-05.

Related Documents:

NJDOE Press Release:  DOE Announces Results of Annual Survey of Teacher Content Expertise (9/5/2007)


NJDOE:  Summary of the 2006-07 Highly Qualified Teacher Survey Results (9/05/2007)


On September 19, 2007 IELP Founding Director Paul Tractenberg moderated a panel discussion on public education entitled “Equalizing Educational Opportunities in New Jersey: A Conversation with Five Former Supreme Court Justices about Abbott v. Burke.” The panel consisted of former New Jersey Supreme Court justices who had participated in various rulings in the Abbott v. Burke public school finance litigation: Chief Justice Deborah Poritz, and Associate Justices James Coleman, Alan Handler and Gary Stein (a fifth justice, Daniel O’Hern, was unable to participate at the last minute). The event, which took place at the New Jersey Law Center in New Brunswick, was well attended.

The “conversation” was scintillating and wide-ranging. The former justices addressed questions such as, what is the appropriate role of the judiciary in the public education funding debate? What are the proper roles of the executive and legislative branches of government in this debate? What is the capacity to implement Abbott of the Department of Education and the various branches of government? What do the 37 words of the education clause in the New Jersey Constitution mean, particularly “thorough,” “efficient,” “education” and “system?” A lively two-hour discussion was followed by a Q and A with the audience. The panel discussion was sponsored jointly by the Institute on Education Law and Policy, the Public Education Institute, the New Jersey State Bar Foundation, and ten other organizations.


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