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SCHOOL CHILDREN MOVE TO BLOCK GOVERNOR'S CUTS

URGE COURT TO HOLD STATE ACCOUNTABLE FOR PERFORMANCE

Newark, NJ -- April 24, 2006  NJ's urban school children are asking the Supreme Court to reject Governor Jon Corzine’s request to make substantial cuts in education programs and staff in the State’s high poverty, high minority urban schools.

The school children -- plaintiffs in the landmark Abbott v. Burke case -- also urge the Court to order several long overdue reforms necessary to ensure the State meets its obligation to improve educational quality and outcomes in the Abbott schools.

On April 7th, Attorney General Zulima Farber filed a motion asking for unprecedented permission to "flat fund" school aid in FY2007, and to prevent the districts from seeking Abbott supplemental funds. Given the projected 4.0% rise in fixed costs, the State’s proposal will cause across the board cuts in programs and services, and no funds for 20 new schools opening next year.

In brief filed on April 21st, ELC, counsel to the school children, argues that the Governor’s request to cut education programs for poor students clearly violates the funding mandates established in the 1998 Abbott V decision. ELC also directly refutes the Governor’s unsupported claim that Abbott districts are not using their Abbott supplemental funds properly or making enough improvement. Through data from the Abbott Indicators Project, ELC convincingly shows that districts have used their supplemental funds for smaller classes, reading tutors, full-day kindergarten, extra security, drop out prevention officers and other essential programs and staff. ELC also shows the significant progress in early and elementary education now underway – progress that will be crippled by the State’s proposed education cuts.

ELC also asks the Court to hold the Commissioner of Education accountable to deepen Abbott progress by:

  • Starting the long overdue, Court-ordered formal Abbott evaluation, so we can finally begin learning what reforms are working
  • Preparing a NJDOE Abbott management plan, including progress benchmarks so stakeholders can assess the performance of State education officials
  • Ending the cycle of constantly changing Abbott regulations by requiring multi-year rules adopted after public notice and comment

"Its a shame the State is wasting time and money in court trying to cut needed programs in our urban schools," stated Abbott counsel, David Sciarra. "We call on the Governor to instead roll up his sleeves and work with parents, teachers and community leaders to deepen the historic gains now being made in our city schools."

Read ELC Brief...