August 2008
In This Issue

Education Justice supports advocates, policymakers, attorneys and others, in states across the nation, who are working to strengthen and improve public schools and close opportunity gaps, especially for low-income and minority schoolchildren.

A federal district court in Texas has reversed its own earlier ruling and upheld the rights of students learning English, as guaranteed by the federal Equal Educational Opportunity Act. Plaintiffs hope that the July 24 ruling in U.S. and LULAC-GI Forum v. Texas will force the state “to address an often-ignored problem in education, and that is the quality of education for English-language learners at the secondary level,” according to David Hinojosa.
In June, over 120 education advocates, attorneys, and policy experts met in Washington, D.C. at the Eighth Annual Quality Education Conference to engage in a multifaceted exploration of education reform and hear about the latest developments in school funding litigation and advocacy across the country.
Participants from thirty states presented firsthand accounts of recent cases, grassroots campaigns, and policy initiatives, and a variety of workshops afforded participants the opportunity for in-depth study of school reform and policy issues.
Dr. John Jackson, President and CEO of the Schott Foundation for Public Education, delivered an inspiring keynote speech that energized participants at the 2008 Quality Education Conference. Dr. Jackson announced his foundation's ambitious strategy to improve educational quality, especially for our most underserved, low-income and minority students. This new campaign will work towards creating a federal right to education and implementing Opportunity to Learn standards in several key states.
Dr. Jackson also recounted a couple of motivational parables illustrating the spirit that drives advocates, organizers, attorneys, and foundations working for education justice and better schools for all children.
The Hon. John M. Greaney, an Associate Justice of Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, gave the lunchtime address at this year's Quality Education Conference. Justice Greaney signed on to the majority opinion in McDuffy and filed a dissenting opinion in Hancock v. Driscoll. Justice Greaney spoke candidly about his role-and the roles of judges, justices, and attorneys-in school funding litigation.
The overarching theme of Justice Greaney's speech was that state courts “have special skills, not shared with the other branches of government, and that these skills provide a unique role for judicial involvement in the educational reform enterprise.”
Pending quality education and school finance cases in ten states include a claim for increased preschool education. In recent months, there have been notable developments in several of these cases. Trials will begin later this year in a few of these cases, and some important appellate decisions are also expected. Education Justice at Education Law Center, as well as the Starting at 3 initiative, has and will continue to represent “friends of the court” and write amicus briefs, advise counsel, and help to prepare for trial in many of these cases.
Advocates for schoolchildren in New Jersey's low-wealth school districts are fighting the state's latest attempt to undo the groundbreaking remedies ordered by the state supreme court in the landmark Abbott v. Burke litigation. The new school funding formula, narrowly passed in January 2008-the School Funding Reform Act of 2008 (SFRA)-abruptly eliminates many of the reforms ordered by the court.
On March 17, 2008, the state filed a motion with the court for a determination that the Abbott remedies are no longer required. Education Law Center, on behalf of the children in the Abbott districts, opposed the state's motion, which the court will hear in September.
September 2, 2008: Trial is set to begin in South Dakota Coalition of Schools v. State.
September 22, 2008: Oral argument in New Jersey on state's motion in Abbott v. Burke to have the state supreme court determine that the new school funding law is constitutional, and to release the state from the Abbott remedial orders, except on facilities.
October 2008: The remedy phase of the Moore v. State trial is scheduled to begin.
October 21, 2008: Trial is set to begin in Consortium for Adequate School Funding in Georgia v. State.
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Phone: (973) 624-1815

State-by-state information on school funding litigation, past and pending, can be found at this web page.

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