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Podcast: Is Abbott Dead? School Reform and Funding in the Cities

The landmark education ruling has long impacted school funding, but is it relevant any longer?

While we're on winter hiatus we'll be publishing podcasts of some of the most compelling and challenging sessions from our October NJ Spotlight On Cities conference, as well as a podcast diary of a colleague who is struggling with breast cancer.

Abbott v. Burke was the name of a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of 20 families from Camden, East Orange, Irvington, and Jersey City. A series of rulings in that case — intended to ensure that schools in 31 of New Jersey’s poorest communities received the “thorough and efficient” system of education — have impacted how New Jersey schools are funded for three decades.

At NJ Spotlight On Cities, NJ Spotlight education writer and founding editor John Mooney asked the question: “How relevant is Abbott today?” The session featured panelists Paul Tractenberg, co-director, Institute On Education Law and Policy and founder of the Education Law Center; Drew Martin, executive director, KIPP-Cooper Norcross Academy in Camden; and Chris Cerf, superintendent of Newark Public Schools and former New Jersey commissioner of education.


Education was a big theme at this year’s inaugural NJ Spotlight On Cities. Now we’re gearing up for our second year, to be held in the fall. Education will undoubtedly remain a big part of the 2016 event, but we would love to hear from you what other questions we should be asking in education and other subjects? Do you know of an idea that’s taken root in another American city that New Jersey might try? Or a speaker that we absolutely should know about? Tell us about it by emailing us at

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