Here’s an official welcome to the new education blog in town, "New Jersey Education Aid."The author, who goes by the moniker StateAidGuy, is a school finance whiz committed to unveiling inequities within N.J.’s state education aid, funneled through a hodgepodge of the old Abbott formula and the 2008 School Funding Reform Act (SFRA).
Once upon a time N.J.'s state school aid was driven by a series of State Supreme Court rulings in Abbott v. Burke that led to the designation of 31 Abbott districts. Those 31 school districts once were the predominant residences of N.J.’s poorest families who were on their own raising school taxes. The Court, after a series of suits litigated by the Education Law Center, declared that basing school funding solely on a town’s ability to raise taxes was unconstitutional, violating our commitment to ensuring that every child has access to an “adequate and efficient education system.” The Court’s ruling in Abbott v. Burke was fair and wise, and led to a new funding formula that raised state money (through N.J.’s first state income tax) to ensure that poor children in Trenton received as many resources as rich children in Princeton. Other rulings led to free preschool and state-sponsored school construction.
N.J. changed, poor children now live all over the state, and once-poor school districts are richer. So in 2008 the State Legislature passed the School Funding Reform Act, which intended to overturn Abbott and have state school aid “follow the child” instead of those 31 school districts. However, much like N.J.’s pension system (and the NorthEast corridor of NJ Transit), SFRA is too expensive to fund. Corzine managed it the first year, but no governor has been able to fully fund SFRA so we've reverted, in part, to Abbott funding.
New Jersey Education Aid dissects SFRA’s unsustainability and points to some of the most egregious examples of inequity within N.J.’s state school funding , ridden by rigid formulas, archaic line items, and endless litigation by Education Law Center (desperate to preserve its Abbott turf). StateAidGuy says , “My hope is that this will lay the groundwork for a fairer distribution of state aid, where suburbs and low-resource non-Abbotts would be treated better.”
A few samples: “There are numerous problems with New Jersey’s Abbott funding system, but there is no facet of Abbott more problematic - nay, ridiculous, nay, morally obscene - than the fact that Hoboken, New Jersey’s second richest K-12 district, remains an Abbott…If Hoboken had just a 1.0 school tax rate it would raise $110 million a year, enough to send every Hoboken child to a Swiss boarding school.”
And, “since the recession hit in 2010 and state aid has be cut, numerous critics, especially Save Our Schools NJ and the Education Law Center, have slammed the state and Chris Christie for underfunding the state’s school aid law, the School Funding Reform Act of 2008 (SFRA).
Underaiding is a valid criticism (if one is oblivious to the pension crisis) but the problem with state aid in New Jersey isn’t only underfunding, it is the rigidity of the distribution."
So, welcome to the blogosphere, StateAidGuy!
Labels: Abbott, school funding, SFRA