New Jersey Leading the Nation in School Funding Equity

ELC Calls on Congress to Enact Student Bill of Rights

Newark, New Jersey – October 11, 2004

New Jersey is a national leader in providing equitable school funding for poor and minority students, according a report issued by the Washington, DC-based Education Trust. This year’s report – “The Funding Gap 2004” – tracks spending on schools serving poor and minority students, and compares the states’ efforts to close the funding gap between wealthy and poor school districts.

The report shows that New Jersey is one of a handful of states that has eliminated the funding gap between the highest and lowest poverty school districts and between the highest and lowest minority districts. New Jersey is also singled out, along with Massachusetts and Minnesota, as providing extra dollars to districts serving high concentrations of poor students.

In contrast, states such as Pennsylvania, New York, California and Connecticut all under-fund their high poverty and minority schools, with the gaps in Pennsylvania and New York among the worst in the nation.

According to the report, New Jersey “stands out” as having made real progress since the late 1990’s in equalizing school funding, citing the landmark Abbott v. Burke rulings as the catalyst for this unprecedented effort.

“All New Jerseyans can take pride in these findings. Our state is one in which all children, regardless of community wealth, family income or race, are assured adequate education funding,” said David Sciarra, ELC Executive Director and Abbott counsel. “We should also be proud that unequal school funding – a scourge on the national landscape – is no longer tolerated in our state.”

Mr. Sciarra also called on Congress to enact the Student Bill of Rights, federal legislation requiring all states to do what New Jersey has done. “We need the federal government to reward states like New Jersey that make the extra effort to ensure high poverty schools the resources needed to meet high standards,” he stated.

The Student Bill of Rights is sponsored by Senator Christopher Dodd (Connecticut), and cosponsored by New Jersey Senators Jon Corzine and Frank Lautenberg. In the House, the bill is sponsored by Congressman Chaka Fattah of Philadelphia and cosponsored by New Jersey Congressmen Robert Andrews, Rush Holt, Robert Menendez, Frank Pallone and William Pascrell. “It is in New Jersey’s interest for every member of our Congressional delegation to get behind this bill,” Mr. Sciarra added.

Education Law Center Press Contact:
David Sciarra
Executive Director
voice: 973 624-1815 x16

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