The Institute on Education Law and Policy (IELP), an interdisciplinary research project at Rutgers University-Newark that director Paul Tractenberg ’60 established in 2000, has produced two major reports [see one and two] on school segregation in New Jersey in collaboration with The Civil Rights Project at UCLA. “The findings were sobering, even for a state that has long been home to some of the most segregated schools in the country,” wrote Tractenberg for NJ Spotlight.
Tractenberg, who is also the Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor and Alfred C. Clapp Distinguished Public Service Professor of Law at Rutgers School of Law-Newark, recently published Courting Justice: 10 New Jersey Cases That Shook the Nation (Rutgers University Press, 2013) which he edited, as well as authored two chapters. He discussed these cases on New Jersey Capital Report with Steve Adubato and Rafael Pi Roman. Adubato, who calls the book “provocative and fascinating,” brings up Tractenberg’s case number 10, Robinson v. Cahill, which declared that New Jersey’s school funding statute was unconstitutional because it violated the “thorough and efficient education” requirement of the state constitution. Tractenberg explains the genesis of the lawsuit:
“At the level of funding… urban kids were not getting a fair shake; they were not getting as much as advantaged suburban kids. … There was fundamentally unfair and unequal in taking the children with the greatest educational needs and giving them less resources, older buildings, weaker curricula…It was an effort to address a lot of things through funding.” [See it here: Tractenberg comes in at 9:40.]
A history major at Wesleyan, Tractenberg earned his J.D. from the University of Michigan and has been on the faculty at Rutgers Law School since 1973. He is spending his sabbatical year working on a comparative study of public education reform processes in Ontario, Israel and Finland, where he was appointed as a visiting professorial scholar at the law and education schools of the University of Toronto, Tel Aviv and Haifa Universities and University of Helsinki, respectively.