Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Neglecting (or cheating?) poor rural schools, even when the law is on their side

This post on the Education Law Blog yesterday mentions school finance litigation in over funding of rural schools.  Derek Black of the University of South Carolina writes:
Several states like Nebraska, Wyoming, Tennessee and Wyoming, to name just a few, have seen school finance litigation on behalf of rural districts. Other states like North Carolina have included rural districts as a distinct class of disadvantaged districts within broader litigation. Notwithstanding these examples, it is sometimes easy to miss the plight of rural districts, particularly in states that are not rural. In states like New York and New Jersey, the neediest districts and students find their homes in the same places as school finance litigators: large urban centers. Advocates and reasearchers do not have to look far to find obvious and gross inequity.
Black goes on to note this article published last year, Kyle E. Gruber, Bringing Home the Bacon: A Case for Applying the New Jersey Urban School Funding Remedy from Abbott v. Burke to Poor Rural School Districts, 2 Colum. J. Race & L. Rev. 167 (2012).  Here's the abstract:
In 1997, seventeen poor rural school districts in New Jersey filed a lawsuit seeking a declaration that their districts were in violation of its students’ state constitutional right to a “thorough and efficient” education, and a financial remedy akin to the one granted to poor urban districts in Abbott v. Burke. Fifteen years and four decisions later, these districts are still inadequately funded and providing a constitutionally inadequate education to the students therein. This Article analyzes the state of education funding law in New Jersey, under the governing Abbott v. Burke decisions, and argues that there is no significant legal distinction barring the poor rural districts from access to the same, or similar, remedial measures.

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