Sunday LeftoversSeptember 28, 2014
N.J. Assembly Approves Urban Hope ActSeptember 29, 2014
Last week I wrote about New Jersey’s “Bacon” lawsuit, an Abbott school funding case writ small. Sixteen rural districts in South Jersey, now represented by Education Law Center (which famously won the Abbott litigation twenty-five years ago) are suing the State for inadequate school funding. In the press release issued by ELC, Executive Director David Sciarra claims that “[s]tudents and families in these impoverished districts have no alternative but to return to court to secure the thorough and efficient education to which they are entitled. The State’s continuing refusal to remedy the constitutional violation in these districts is unconscionable and can no longer be tolerated.”
The sixteen Bacon districts are Buena Regional, Clayton, Commercial, Egg Harbor City, Fairfield, Hammonton Township, Lakehurst, Lakewood, Lawrence, Little Egg Harbor, Maurice River, Ocean Township, Quinton, Upper Deerfield, Wallington, and Woodbine.
In the comment section of that post last week, Jeffrey Bennett, a school board member in Essex County who has closely studied what he calls “New Jersey’s (mal)distribution of state aid,” responded with a wealth of information.
Read his comments (his moniker is “State Aid Guy”) yourself. What follows are some highlights, which include excerpts from some correspondence between fellow board members.
- The most important thing about the Bacon case, says Bennett, is that “they are nowhere near the most under-aided in NJ. According to what the DOE shows, there are 150 districts in NJ that are more under aided than any of the Bacons. “
- All of the Bacons already get significantly more aid than their suburban economic peers do. “It’s misguided of the ELC to support this case when there are so many districts in NJ whose needs are objectively so much higher.”
- “This case operates on a false premise of severe under-aiding. This is another instance of irresponsibility from the Education Law Center.”
- “Some of the Bacons should get more, but several of the Bacon districts already get about as much as Abbotts like Elizabeth and Trenton. Since Long Branch and Neptune (both Abbotts) get in the $7,000-8,000 range, half of the Bacons are already funded at Abbott levels.”
- “Basically I see this as another deeply problematic lawsuit, like the Abbott lawsuit. These districts aren’t the neediest in NJ. Several already get large amounts of aid, several have high resources, and while several could probably benefit from more state aid and spending, so could a lot of districts that aren’t part of this lawsuit.