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

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
Budget & Finance Webinar
Innovative Funding Models: A Deep Dive into Public-Private Partnerships
Discover how innovative funding models drive educational projects forward. Join us for insights into effective PPP implementation.
Content provided by Follett Learning
Budget & Finance Webinar Staffing Schools After ESSER: What School and District Leaders Need to Know
Join our newsroom for insights on investing in critical student support positions as pandemic funds expire.
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
Student Achievement Webinar
How can districts build sustainable tutoring models before the money runs out?
District leaders, low on funds, must decide: broad support for all or deep interventions for few? Let's discuss maximizing tutoring resources.
Content provided by Varsity Tutors for Schools

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 Supreme Court Turns Down Case Challenging School District's Transgender Policies
The case involves a policy allowing information to be withheld from parents considered not supportive of a gender-transitioning child.
3 min read
This Oct. 4, 2018, photo shows the U.S. Supreme Court at sunset in Washington. The Supreme Court has declined to take up an appeal from parents in Oregon who want to prevent transgender students from using locker rooms and bathrooms of the gender with which they identify, rather than their sex assigned at birth.
This Oct. 4, 2018, photo shows the U.S. Supreme Court at sunset in Washington. The court has declined to take up an appeal from parents in Maryland challenging a school district's policy on gender-support plans for students.
Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
Law & Courts District Can Deny Opt-Outs on LGBTQ+ Books, Court Rules
Religious parents objected to a Maryland district's policy ending opt-outs for elementary school 'storybooks' with LGBTQ+ themes.
5 min read
A pedestrian passes by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals Courthouse, June 16, 2021, on Main Street in Richmond, Va.
A person walks near the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit's courthouse in Richmond, Va. A panel of the court denied an injunction seeking to restore religious parents' opportunity to opt their children out of LGBTQ+ "storybooks" in a Maryland district.
Steve Helber/AP
Law & Courts Brown v. Board of Education: 70 Years of Progress and Challenges
The milestone for the historic 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down racial segregation in schools is marked by a range of tributes
12 min read
People mill around the third floor of the Kansas Statehouse in front of a Brown v. Board of Education mural before hearing from speakers recognizing the 70th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court case on April 29, 2024 in Topeka, Kan.
People mill around the third floor of the Kansas Statehouse in front of a Brown v. Board of Education mural before hearing from speakers recognizing the 70th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court case on April 29, 2024 in Topeka, Kan.
Evert Nelson/The Topeka Capital-Journal via AP
Law & Courts Republican-Led States Sue to Block New Title IX Rule
A pair of lawsuits focus on the rule's protections for students' gender identity.
5 min read
Demonstrators advocating for transgender rights and healthcare stand outside of the Ohio Statehouse on Jan. 24, 2024, in Columbus. Four Republican-led states filed a lawsuit Monday challenging the Biden administration's new Title IX regulation, which among other things would codify protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Demonstrators advocating for transgender rights and healthcare stand outside of the Ohio Statehouse on Jan. 24, 2024, in Columbus. Four Republican-led states filed a lawsuit Monday challenging the Biden administration's new Title IX regulation, which among other things would codify protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Patrick Orsagos/AP