Education Law Center (ELC) advances its mission of protecting and strengthening the right to public education for the nation’s school children by working in several related spheres – litigation, policy advocacy, research, communications and collaborations with local, state and national partners. Below are some recent highlights of the efforts of ELC staff to inform and engage advocates across the country in the cause of education justice and equity:
- Jessica Levin, ELC Senior Attorney and Director of Public Funds Public Schools (PFPS), and Sharon Krengel, ELC Policy and Outreach Director, joined Bacardi Jackson from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), and Sharon Kirsch from Save Our Schools Arizona to discuss the fight against the growing threat of private school vouchers during the Network for Public Education’s (NPE) annual conference. The panel focused on the litigation, advocacy and research work of PFPS, a national campaign founded by ELC and SPLC to ensure that public funds are used to maintain and support our public schools and their students.
- Jessica Levin and Sharon Krengel also presented PFPS research on private school voucher laws in the states from 2019 through 2022 during the Rutgers University Policy, Communities & Social Justice Research Conference. This was the second year in a row that PFPS participated in the virtual conference, sharing information about the PFPS interactive voucher bill tracking tool and the results of analyses of proposed privatization legislation around the country, including the important reasons why these bills often fail.
- Jessica Levin spoke on a panel at the AFT 2022 Lawyers Conference about private school voucher litigation in state and federal courts and current trends in voucher lawsuits. She discussed PFPS litigation challenging private school voucher programs in Tennessee and West Virginia, as well as PFPS’ support for litigation against voucher laws in other states.
- Danielle Farrie, ELC Research Director, was a featured presenter during the virtual statewide conference, “Re-Envisioning the Future of Educational Equity in New Jersey,” co-sponsored by the Cornwall Center for Metropolitan Studies at Rutgers Newark, The Inclusion Project, the Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice, other stakeholder organizations. Dr. Farrie provided a brief history of New Jersey public school funding, as well as strategies to advocate for improvements to the state’s funding formula to ensure it provides equitable and adequate educational opportunities, especially for students in school districts segregated by poverty and race.
- During the NJTESOL/NJBE spring conference, Senior Attorney Elizabeth Athos accepted the BJ Franks Advocacy Award for ELC’s work on the report, English Learners in New Jersey: Exposing Inequities and Expanding Opportunities in the Wake of the Pandemic, co-authored with NJTESOL/NJBE and the NJ Consortium for Immigrant Children. The award presentation and Ms. Athos’ remarks can be viewed here. Jessica Levin, who also worked on the English Learners report, recorded a panel on advocating for multilingual learners as part of the conference events.
- Elizabeth Athos and ELC Trustee and special education attorney, Rebecca Spar, authored the New Jersey Lawyer article, How New Jersey’s Special Education Complaint Resolution System Fails Students. The two attorneys reviewed 13 pandemic complaint investigation reports that addressed failures to implement students’ Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and the appropriateness of virtual instruction and found that “significant changes and work is needed if New Jersey is to have an effective state complaint system.”
And Be Sure Not to Miss:
- ELC’s podcast series, produced in collaboration with LEGAL ONE, unpacks the decades-long effort to define and implement the right to public education guaranteed all students under the New Jersey Constitution. For more information and to access the series, go to: Leading the Nation: New Jersey’s Right to Public Education Defined
- The 2022 installment of ELC’s annual Education Justice Lecture: “Beyond Either/Or: The Constitutional Right to an Equitable and Diverse Public Education.” To access a recording of the June 9 lecture by Professor John C. Brittain, go to: Beyond Equity or Diversity: Expanding the Right to Public Education in the United States
- Are you working on school funding reform in your state? ELC’s groundbreaking report, From Courthouse to Statehouse—and Back Again, documents how advocates and lawyers teamed up in five states to secure significant finance reforms yielding major new investments in their public school systems.
Education Law Center, founded in 1973, pursues education justice and equity to ensure that all students receive a high quality public education effectively preparing them to participate as citizens in a democratic society and as valued contributors to a robust economy. If this e-blast was forwarded to you, please sign up to receive regular ELC updates here.
Policy and Outreach Director
973-624-1815, x 240
Director of Policy, Strategic Partnerships and Communications