June 03, 2009
Rejoice! Off comes the ball and chain that is Abbott v. Burke. This notorious court case of the early 1980s sought to equalize education spending across New Jersey by shoveling loads of extra state dollars into 31 poor communities ("Abbott districts"). But demographics have shifted in the Garden State over the past quarter century, redistributing the poverty that Abbott once sought to remedy and making the Abbott designations largely obsolete. When Governor Jon Corzine tried to fix the situation in late 2007 by tying dollars to needy students instead of districts, his funding formula was taken to court. That formula has actually been in place since July 2008, but the justices were in no hurry to make up their minds. Thankfully, the wait is over. The New Jersey Supreme Court has finally declared Corzine's approach constitutional, calling it a "thoughtful, progressive attempt to assist at-risk children throughout the state of New Jersey, and not only those who happenstance reside in Abbott districts." Gadfly will shed no tears over the reversal of this long-antediluvian decision.
"N.J. Court Approves Shift in School Funding," Associated Press, May 28, 2009
"Court Backs New Jersey Aid Revision: Less Focus on Poor Schools," by Winnie Hu, New York Times, May 28, 2009
"Editorial: Helping more children," Philadelphia Inquirer, May 29, 2009