Obama On Education ReformFebruary 25, 2009
NJEA: Having it Both WaysFebruary 26, 2009
Star-Ledger columnist Bob Braun updates us on the State Funding Reform Act hearings, which should finish up this week. Justice Peter Doyne gets to decide whether Corzine’s move to eliminate the Abbott districts in favor of a supplemental funding formula passes muster with the State Constitution. The Supreme Court’s Abbott decisions send money to 31 specially-designated poor urban districts, and the SFRA would send money to poor kids regardless of what city they live in. Braun writes,
Those who run urban districts know that, once the Abbott designation is gone, the Supreme Court leaves the field, at least for a while, and those systems and the kids they serve lose their edge and face what other districts now face: A Legislature that doesn’t fully fund its schools, no matter what the formula. Even in good times.
In other words, our school funding formula is broken and, whatever Judge Doyne decides, it will still be broken – that is, if we define brokenness as educational inequity. The SFRA is only a piece of Corzine’s fix: the rest is consolidation of school districts, standardized curricula, and efficiency formulas. It’s a recipe for school district similitude that’s anathema to New Jersey’s culture of home rule, which is why everyone is kicking up such a fuss. State standards, financial and academic, dumb down wealthy districts and raise up poor districts, and New Jersey can’t square that with our devotion to local power.