Law & Courts

Choice Advocates Seek Vouchers as Remedy for N.J. Students in Low-Performing Schools

By David J. Hoff — July 13, 2006 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

In what they are calling a national test case, voucher proponents have launched an effort to use school choice as a remedy for students in 97 New Jersey schools that have failed to provide the “thorough and efficient” education guaranteed by the state’s constitution.

Eschewing the traditional solution of adding money to public schools, the Alliance for School Choice and three New Jersey-based groups filed a class action on July 13 in state superior court in Newark demanding that students in the schools receive vouchers to attend a public or private school of their choice, including religious schools. The lawsuit also would seek to revoke mandatory attendance boundaries in the state.

Clint Bolick

The choice measures would provide “immediate and meaningful relief” from the inadequate education provided to the 60,000 students attending the 97 schools cited in the lawsuit as failing, said Clint Bolick, the president and general counsel of the Alliance for School Choice, a Phoenix-based legal advocacy group.

“It immediately allows students to leave failing schools for good ones and at the same time creates pressure for accountability for public schools,” Mr. Bolick said in an interview before filing the lawsuit.

Mr. Bolick added that the New Jersey lawsuit will be a “national test case” for voucher advocates’ efforts to redirect long-running efforts by education advocates to use state constitutions’ education clauses to win increased financing for public schools.

New Solution to Old Problem

In a series of school finance lawsuits over the past 30 years, New Jersey courts have mandated remedies such as increased spending, mandatory preschool, schoolwide curricula, and state-financed school construction in the state’s poorest districts. Courts in Kansas, Kentucky, New York, and several other states also have sided with plaintiffs who have argued that the states inadequately finance their schools.

“Not a lot of those states have much to show for that massive funding effort,” Mr. Bolick contends. “In the meantime, kids continue to languish in failing schools.”

New Jersey-based groups participating in the lawsuit are the Black Ministers’ Council of New Jersey, in Orange, the Latino Leadership Alliance, in New Brunswick, and Excellent Education for Everyone, which has offices in Camden and Newark.

The 97 schools cited in the lawsuit either have at least half of their students failing to meet the state’s standards in language arts and mathematics or 75 percent of their students falling short of the standards in one of those subjects.

Those schools are in 25 districts throughout the state. The 40,000-student Newark Public Schools has 24 schools identified in the lawsuit-the most of any district.

Events

School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Get a Strong Start to the New School Year
Get insights and actions from Education Week journalists and expert guests on how to start the new school year on strong footing.
Reading & Literacy Webinar A Roadmap to Multisensory Early Literacy Instruction: Accelerate Growth for All Students 
How can you develop key literacy skills with a diverse range of learners? Explore best practices and tips to meet the needs of all students. 
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
College & Workforce Readiness Webinar
Supporting 21st Century Skills with a Whole-Child Focus
What skills do students need to succeed in the 21st century? Explore the latest strategies to best prepare students for college, career, and life.
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Law & Courts K-12 Groups Back Racial Diversity as Supreme Court Schedules Affirmative Action Arguments
Teachers' unions and school administrator groups ask the court to uphold the consideration of race to achieve a diverse student body.
5 min read
In this June 8, 2021 photo, with dark clouds overhead, the Supreme Court is seen in Washington.
The U.S. Supreme Court in October will hear arguments in a pair of cases about the consideration of race in college admissions.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Law & Courts In a Chat, Two U.S. Supreme Court Justices Talk Civics, Media Literacy
Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Amy Coney Barrett discussed civics education in a recorded interview presented by the Ronald Reagan Institute.
3 min read
Civics Justices 07292022 172183035
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Law & Courts Conservative Parent Group Sues School District Over Curriculum That Discusses Race and Gender
The lawsuit, among the first to cite a state law curbing discussions of those topics, could have broad implications for school districts.
9 min read
Image of a pending lawsuit.
gesrey/iStock/Getty
Law & Courts Appeals Court Revives Student's Free Speech Suit Over Antisemitic Social Media Post
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit reinstated a case involving an off-campus post referring to the extermination of Jews.
3 min read
Image of a gavel
iStock/Getty