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

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.


Jobs The EdWeek Top School Jobs Virtual Career Fair
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
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.
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Safe Return to Schools is Possible with Testing
We are edging closer to a nationwide return to in-person learning in the fall. However, vaccinations alone will not get us through this. Young children not being able to vaccinate, the spread of new and
Content provided by BD
Equity & Diversity Live Online Discussion What Is Critical Race Theory and Why You Shouldn't Shy Away From It
In this episode of A Seat at the Table, Peter DeWitt sits down with lawyer-educator Janel George and EdWeek reporters, Stephen Sawchuk and Andrew Ujifusa, as they discuss what’s at the heart of the critical

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 Educators Look for Guideposts in Supreme Court Ruling on Student Free Speech
Measured responses greet a ruling that a district violated a student’s rights when it disciplined her for a vulgar Snapchat video.
6 min read
Members of the Supreme Court pose for a group photo at the Supreme Court in Washington on April 23, 2021.
Members of the Supreme Court pose for a group photo in Washington in April.
Erin Schaff/The New York Times via AP
Law & Courts U.S. Supreme Court Rules for Cheerleader Who Posted Vulgar Snapchat Message
The decision was 8-1 for a student who'd been disciplined by her school, but the court suggests some off-campus speech may be regulated.
12 min read
Image shows a picture of Brandi Levy in her cheerleading uniform in front of Mahanoy Area High School.
Brandi Levy, now an 18-year-old college freshman, was a cheerleader at Mahanoy Area High School in Pennsylvania when she made profane comments on Snapchat that were at the center of a U.S. Supreme Court case on student speech rights.
Danna Singer/Provided by the American Civil Liberties Union
Law & Courts U.S. Supreme Court Rules for Athletes Over NCAA in Case on Education-Related Compensation
In a case watched in high school sports, the justices hold that some limits on college athlete compensation violate federal antitrust law.
5 min read
Image of the Supreme Court.
Law & Courts Let Transgender Student Play on Girls' Team, Feds Say, Supporting Her Suit Over a State Law
A West Virginia law barring transgender girls from girls' sports teams violates Title IX and U.S. Constitution, the Justice Department says.
3 min read
Advocates for transgender people march from the South Dakota governor's mansion to the Capitol in Pierre, S.D., on March 11, 2021, to protest a proposed ban on transgender girls and women from female sports leagues.
Advocates for transgender people march from the South Dakota governor's mansion to the Capitol in Pierre, S.D., to protest a ban on transgender girls and women from female sports leagues, one of dozens of measures considered in state legislatures this year.
Stephen Groves/AP