The Latest Abbott Case: Something to Offend Everyone

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Earl Kim, Superintendent of Montgomery Public Schools (who testified for the plaintiffs and the State during the Doyne hearing):

It is one of those decisions that is not purely logical. It’s OK to violate the constitutional right to a thorough and efficient education for some students, meaning the districts like ours or other suburban districts, but not violate the rights of others.

David Sciarra, Director of Education Law Center:

We wanted this order to extend to everybody, We’ve got a lot of work to do.

Robert Copeland, Superintendent of Piscataway, (who also testified during the Doyne hearing):

There are districts like mine who will be devastated by this decision because we are neither wealthy nor Abbott.

And, in another source,

I just don’t get it. I can’t understand the logic that the court upholds SFRA and the concept that there are at-risk student who need help separate from the Abbotts, and then in the next breath they say, ‘It’s not our problem.’

Assembly Budget Chairman Lou Greenwald:

The Supreme Court has spelled out in plain language what the people of New Jersey are certainly starting to discover – Gov. Christie is failing the families of New Jersey and falling far short of his own campaign promises to fund education and cut taxes.

Bruce Baker, school finance expert:

It seems like a peculiar twist.

Paul Tractenberg, founder of Education Law Center:

It puts us back in the ‘them against us’ way of thinking about school funding.

Gov. Christie:

The idea that this $500 million is going to make any marked difference in a system where we are already spending $4.5 billion to the Abbott districts. Another half-billion will put them over the top? It just doesn’t make sense to me.

Michael Riccards, executive director of the Hall Institute:

The Supreme Court should totally get out of the practice of running state institutions. It violates the separation of powers, and in the case of schools, establishes an erroneous doctrine that more money will change Abbott schools. It has not and will not.

Josh McMann at New Jersey Newsroom:

What a mess…In its convoluted decision, the three-justice majority determined the state was obligated to live up to the 2008 law but then applied it only to the Abbott districts. It offered some confusing legal reasoning for taking this step.

Chris Tessone at Fordham’s Flypaper:

So-called “Abbott districts,” which get more money under another NJ Supreme Court ruling that deemed education in those locales inadequate, are among the highest-spending districts in the country. Newark, which is one of them, tops out at $23,000 per student using the state’s new accounting method. Education in these districts is indeed inadequate and horribly shortchanges the youngsters who live there, but after 25 years of receiving extra resources, it seems clear that the problem goes deeper than money. Unfortunately, the question of what constitutes an “adequate” education in New Jersey has largely revolved around funding issues rather than processes and outcomes for children.

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  • kallikak, May 25, 2011 @ 7:15 pm Reply

    Does this decision free the Governor from being held to the SFRA funding formula for non-Abbott districts?

    If so, is he bound by any other formula?

    If not, what can the rest of us count on from Trenton???

  • kallikak, May 26, 2011 @ 1:09 pm Reply

    P.S. What's to stop the Governor from funding the additional $500M for the Abbotts via an equivalent cut to the rest of us?

  • NJ Left Behind, May 26, 2011 @ 1:26 pm Reply

    Yes, this decision resuscitates the distinction of Abbotts and non-Abbotts that SFRA intended to erase. So while the Gov. is obliged to send an additional $500 million to the Abbott districts he is not obliged to send anything more to non-Abbotts.

    There's nothing in the decision that would bar the Legislature from funding the $500 m by subtracting that from aid to other districts. But I don't think anyone is that tin-earred to attempt that.

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