On July 13, parents in New Jersey filed a class-action lawsuit seeking relief from the state's failure to provide an adequate education for their mostly minority children. Lawsuits to increase educational funding are commonplace, but Crawford vs. Davy is different because parents are demanding real educational results, not more spending.
Until now, legal remedies to claims of educational inadequacy have been exclusively financial. This time, Crawford and the 60,000 other parents represented in the case won't settle for just more money. Instead, they are demanding two things. They want an end to district-based school assignments, which force children to attend the nearest school, rather than the best school for them. Second, they want a share of the funds spent on their child's education to be used at the public or private school of the family's choice.
The plaintiffs in Crawford aren't giving up on public schools. But sending ever more money to failing schools isn't producing results. Policymakers have promised better schools for some time now. The reforms have centered on improving inputs, such as funding and class size. Now a new wind is blowing. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 4 million American children attend failing schools. If the families in the Crawford case succeed, there may be real reason for hope.
Tom Patterson is chairman of the Goldwater Institute and is a former state senator.
-Alliance for School Choice: "NJ Parents file class action suit seeking school choice options for children trapped in failing schools"
- Crawford v. Davy: "Demanding Immediate and Meaningful Remedies for Children Deprived of a Constitutionally Adequate Education"
- East Valley Tribune: "Real Educational Quality"