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THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY:

A LOOK AT ABBOTT SCHOOL DISTRICT NJ (Part Three)

(The THIRD PART... of a four-part series Dumbing Down American Education)

 

Dorothy Philbin | CNBNews Contributor

 

Screen Shot 2022-02-08 at 13.04.44Gloucester High School, 1300 Market Street, Gloucester City, NJ (CNBNewsnet photo credit)...The local school district became an Abbott District in 1997. Since that time the school district has received millions of dollars, if not more, from the residents of New Jersey. 

YOUR MONEY: After the original ruling in 1985, New Jersey increased spending such that Abbott district students received 22% more per pupil (at $20,859) vs. non-Abbott districts (at $17,051) in 2011.[3] 60% of New Jersey's education aid goes to the Abbotts.[4] Throughout the state, there are 31 Abbott Districts.  Despite 40 years of increased funding, the gaps between Abbott Schools and their suburban counterparts has widened significantly.[6](source Wikipedia)

 

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GLOUCESTER CITY, NJ (February 8, 2022)(CNBNewsnet)--Most Gloucester City residents, especially those with children, know that our school district is an Abbott District.  Many may know that with the Abbott designation comes a lot of money.  Our town couldn't afford to provide the level of education or the buildings we have without the state's Abbott designation and funds.

 
The history behind "being an Abbott District" goes back to the 1980s and the various court cases continue to today.  In Camden, NJ a former high school graduate by the name of Ralph Abbott was arrested and in the process that followed it was discovered that he couldn't read a word.  Naturally, the next question is "how did he graduate from high school if he can't read."  We all know the answer - he was pushed through.  Years ago it was called "social promotion."
 
It took years (1985/86) and a lot of lawsuits but finally the courts ruled in favor of Ralph Abbott in the case known as Abbott v Burke.  Mr. Burke was the Commissioner of Education in the Governor Brendan Burn's administration.  Other towns such as Haddonfield fought as hard as they could to stop the ruling but they lost.  Their philosophy was valid, you can't throw money at a problem and expect wonders.  They were proven correct when a district in South Jersey used their Abbott funds to build an indoor swimming pool.  A short time later, and as the result of another law suit the court ruled that Abbott funds could only be used for educational purposes.  About a decade ago even Gloucester City School District was audited and found to have misused funds.  Our district bought jackets for the football team, paid for Canada geese removal from the sports fields and paid for a public relations person.  None of these was an educational cost.
 
There are 31 Abbott Districts in New Jersey out of about 555 districts*.   Most of them are in North Jersey.  In the South there are Bridgeton. Burlington City, Camden City, Gloucester City, Pemberton Twp., Pleasantville, and Salem according to the state's Department of Education's web site.  These 31 districts account for 60% of the state aid to schools.
 
The state's criteria, or themes as they call it, are that the districts have to be poor and urban.  The district must meet two criteria; they must have educational adequacy and concentrated poverty. The state is emphatic in saying that the money is a remedy and not a reward!  However, no district has ever lost funds for either financial or educational improvement.  Over the years Hoboken, NJ overcame their financial difficulties but didn't lose a cent.  In 2006 Gloucester City had met its educational target but again, didn't lose a cent, We'll explore why in the next article.
 
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The author's background:
 
BA            Foreign Languages                         Rutgers
BS              Business Management                  Rutgers
MBA           Business Management                  Drexel 
M. Ed         Education (K-6, ESL, MYSS)      St. Joseph's
ABD Ph.D. Educational Law and Finance     Nova Southeastern
 
Taught:      8 years   Rutgers University
                17 years   Public School Systems
 
RELATED: 

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY(VII) What Has Happened to American Education?

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY(VIX)...Dumbing Down Education-Part One

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY (X) Advanced Placement Courses--Part Two

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: (XI) A Look at Abbott Schoool Districts of NJ -Part Three

 

The following 31 school districts were currently identified as Abbott districts:[16]

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