- New Jersey Institute of Technology
- Rutgers University Newark
2013 - September
OTHER PEOPLE’S SCHOOLS: THE CHALLENGE OF BUILDING NEW SCHOOLS IN NEW JERSEY’S URBAN DISTRICTS: 2000—2010
By Robert Daniel
This dissertation analyzes the 10-year contemporary history of implementing the facilities element of New Jersey’s historic Abbott V decision. New Jersey’s Legislature and Governor took this Supreme Court decision and created legislation responding to multiple constituencies and lobbyists while shaping a school construction program to be deposited within a government agency for implementation. While not the largest in nominal dollar value, New Jersey’s program was possibly the widest in geographic scope and most detailed in ambition in the United States. Aspects of program implementation are described and linked to their sources in the political sphere and their implications for the school facilities.
New Jersey’s program built 63 new school buildings within 31 of New Jersey’s lowest-wealth school districts across the state in a fully centralized, highly controlled, and prescriptive manner. There is a political aspect of any public works program, and New Jersey’s played against a background of six Governors, beginning with Republican Christine Whitman and ending with Republican Chris Christie over the 10-year period July 2000 to July 2010. This program was a tool of Governors to be accelerated or dampened as needed through Executive Orders or more subtle controls.
There is importance to this study as New Jersey is once again a national leader among the 50 states in addressing its most difficult school facility issues on a statewide basis. New Jersey’s program is a prototype and its experience, successes, and failures provide insight to other states that undoubtedly will be confronting these same problems as their school buildings age.