Sunday, November 8, 2015

Bacon districts lose appeal

The Bacon districts lost their appeal to gain the same aid privileges the Abbott districts have:

[A trial judge] ruled on Dec. 15, 2014, that "district-specific needs assessments which they sought to enforce did not require the (Department of Education) to fully fund the districts under the SFRA or otherwise provide for specific relief and, therefore, there were no orders capable of being enforced under the rule," according to Friday's decision.
The Bacon districts' argument for more funding references a 2009 needs assessment done for all of the districts — pointing out specific ways that the individual districts could improve education for its students. 
The assessment found that the districts — varying in need — were to find help through either SFRA funding, regionalization or a better utilization of existing funds. 
The appellate division decided that the assessments did not call for additional funding.
"Significantly, none of the needs assessments concluded that fully funding the SFRA is necessary to ensure that students in Bacon districts receive a thorough and efficient education," Friday's decision states. "The needs assessments do not require the (Department of Education) or the Legislature to fully fund the districts under SFRA, or institute specific pre-school programs or building projects in the district."

In a better-governed, economically flush New Jersey the Bacon districts would get their full SFRA funding and state-funded Pre-K, but in our horribly governed, bankrupt, zero-sum budgetary reality, if the Bacon districts had triumphed in their case the money would have been taken away from other districts.

As I've said repeatedly on this blog, the Bacon case is fundamentally misguided since the Bacon districts are neither the poorest demographically nor the poorest in tax base nor the most underaided in New Jersey. The Bacon districts are poorer than average, but they have no moral right to cut ahead of districts like Freehold Boro, East Newark, Bound Brook, and Prospect Park in getting more state aid.

The Bacon districts are NOT rural equivalents of the Abbott districts.  As a class, they are not as poor demographically or in terms of tax base.

The Education Law Center's adoption of the Bacon case is just one of many examples of how the ELC has become just another law firm - "Sciarra & Trachtenberg, LLP" and not a social justice organization.

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