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Abbott v. Burke: Has the Landmark School Funding Case Improved Student Outcomes?

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Published: 11/13/2009 12:51:00 PM

November 11, 2021
Equity in Education Forum Series, Fall 2009
Teachers College, Columbia University

In 1970, four cities challenged the constitutionality of the state’s school funding system, arguing that large wealth-based variations in per pupil expenditures across the state’s districts deprived students in low-wealth communities like theirs of a “thorough and efficient” education. Since then, in over 20 decisions handed down over the last 35 years, through Robinson v. Cahill (1973-1976) and later Abbott v. Burke (1985-2005), the New Jersey Supreme Court has sought to ensure that all students in , particularly in distressed urban areas, have equal access to a quality education. This paper examines the impact of court-mandated school finance reform in and describes the state’s new school funding formula, the School Finance Reform Act (SFRA) of 2008, and its potential impact.

Program Agenda


David Sciarra, Executive Director, Education Law Center


Gordon MacInnes, Fellow, Equality and Education Project, The Century Foundation, and Former Assistant Commissioner for the Abbott Implementation

Clifford Janey, Superintendent, Newark Public Schools, New Jersey