Newark NJ – June 7, 2007

Communities for Public Education Reform, a national coalition of educational organizations, recently awarded a grant of $2.3 million to organizations across the US that want to increase parental involvement in public school reform efforts. A collaborative of five New Jersey organizations received a grant of $500,000 to pursue this goal. The five organizations are Paterson ACORN, the Paterson Education Fund (PEF), the Abbott Leadership Institute (ALI), the Education Law Center (ELC), and the Statewide Education Organizing Committee (SEOC), with chapters in Newark (One Newark Educational Coalition) and Jersey City (Jersey City Educational Organizing Committee).

Together, they form the New Jersey Education Organizing Collaborative (NJEOC). All of the member organizations also participate in the Our Children/Our Schools campaign for school funding.

The NJEOC was established to support and energize grassroots support for the mandated reforms laid out in the Abbott Supreme Court Cases and increase parental and community involvement in educational policy discussions. Their work serves three of New Jersey’s Abbott school districts, the poor, urban districts designated by the New Jersey Supreme Court to receive funding designed to offset the effects of poverty on the public school system.

The NJEOC will mainly focus on three local and state level campaigns: school funding, school construction, and educational supports for students. There is an acute need for increased grassroots involvement in educational reform efforts in New Jersey, where Governor Jon Corzine and the State Legislature are set to revamp the state’s school funding scheme. The NJEOC will also work to re-start New Jersey’s school construction program and, in all three cities, push to assure full implementation of vital support services for students and families that Abbott decisions have called for. Through systematic grassroots organizing and leadership development in Paterson, Jersey City, and Newark, the collaborative seeks to actualize the promise of the court-ordered reforms

The Collaborative mixes community organizing with traditional advocacy work to ensure that both parents who have children in Abbott districts and their fellow community members play an active role in educational policy debates. In each city one group will organize community members and develop community support, while other groups provide research and training assistance. All of the member organizations will share resources and strategies as well as undertake collective action in Trenton to engage community members in influencing state policy.

The Education Law Center will participate in the NJEOC steering committee and offer support to all member organizations, providing policy information research, training, and communications assistance. The ELC is a Newark-based organization that pursues litigation on behalf of children who attend schools in Abbott districts. The ELC is also a public policy advocacy organization and research center that promotes community engagement in education.

Education Law Center Press Contact:
Lesley Hirsch
voice: 973 624-1815 x15

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Press Contact:
Sharon Krengel
Director of Policy, Strategic Partnerships and Communications
973-624-1815, x240