February 2008
In This Issue
Resources

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.

Welcome to Education Justice!
In January, Education Law Center (ELC) launched its new, expanded national initiative on behalf of public school children - Education Justice. Directed by attorney and policy analyst Molly Hunter, EdJustice will support advocates, policymakers, attorneys and others across the nation who are working to strengthen and improve public schools-especially schools serving low-income and minority students. In December, ELC and Educational Testing Service (ETS) of Princeton announced an agreement for sustained collaboration between the two organizations to support ELC's “first steps toward a nationwide expansion of its current advocacy efforts on behalf of underserved students.”
Groundbreaking Cost Study on Preschool
Rigorous studies of the comprehensive costs of a quality public education can play an important role in advising policymakers involved in reforming a state's school funding system. In December 2007, Education Law Center released The Cost of High-Quality Preschool in New Jersey, which documents the cost of delivering preschool under the rigorous quality standards already in place for children in New Jersey's urban districts.
Preschool advocates also released Strengthening and Expanding High-Quality Preschool in New Jersey, calling on legislators to strengthen the preschool program in urban districts; to expand the program to other poor districts; and, over time, to ensure access to all youngsters in the Garden State.
Litigation News: WY, CO, NE, CT, SD, GA
In January, the Supreme Court of Wyoming issued its third and final decision in Campbell v. State, bringing to a close 16 years of successful litigation to bring the state's school funding practices in line with the state constitution. Trials are scheduled to begin this year in South Dakota in June, and in Georgia and Nebraska in September.
In Colorado, the state Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of Lobato v. State of Colorado in January, but the plaintiffs intend to appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court.
In Connecticut, plaintiffs in the CCJEF v. Rell (Carroll-Hall v. Rell) case will argue before the state Supreme Court in March, seeking to reinstate claims against the state that demand suitable educational opportunities for all of the state's children.
Is Abbott Gone? New Formula Erodes Equity
On the final day of New Jersey's lame duck session, January 7, 2008, state legislators barely passed Governor Corzine's School Funding Reform Act — a vote that could have a devastating impact on schoolchildren in the state's poorest urban districts, as well as in hundreds of other school districts throughout the state. Unless the new formula is rejected by the state Supreme Court or changed in the new legislature, the governor will succeed in leveling down one of the higher performing state school systems in the nation.
High Quality Pre-K In Litigation and Legislation
Starting At 3 supports legal advocacy to include prekindergarten in school finance litigation and state legislation across the country. Starting At 3's Director, Ellen Boylan, Esq., recently published “High Quality Pre-Kindergarten as the First Step in Educational Adequacy: Using the Courts to Expand Access to State Pre-K Programs,” in the Children's Legal Rights Journal. The article presents a comprehensive history and analysis of key school funding cases.
The Price We Pay — Read It!
The Price We Pay highlights the billions of dollars in private, fiscal, and public costs of inadequate education. It documents strong correlations between educational attainment and future income, health, crime, etc. Did you know that high school dropouts die 9.2 years sooner than high school graduates, on average? You'll find lots of useful talking points like this one in this book.
 
Family Factors Critical to Closing Achievement Gap
Gaps in the home conditions and experiences of young children mirror achievement gaps that begin early in life and persist through high school, according to a report released by ETS. The Family: America's Smallest School is endorsed by the National Urban League, and both organizations call on leaders and policymakers to improve home and family conditions to help all students succeed.
Upcoming Events
School Finance and the Achievement Gap: Funding Programs that Work, May 21-22, Educational Testing Service, Princeton, NJ. A symposium sponsored by ETS and co-convened by Education Justice/Education Law Center and the Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE).
8th Annual Quality Education Conference, June 2008 (TBD), Washington, DC. Education Justice is a co-sponsor of this conference, bringing together school finance litigators and other advocates who seek to strengthen and improve public education for all schoolchildren.
Send announcements of upcoming events for the Education Justice calendar to: edjustice@edlawcenter.org.

The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children.


CONTACT INFORMATION


Email: edjustice@edlawcenter.org

Phone: (973) 624-1815

Web: http://www.startingat3.org/state_laws/
 
State-by-state information on school funding litigation, past and pending, can be found at this web page.


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