Framing Equal Opportunity: Law and the Politics of School Finance Reform

By Michael Paris | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FOUR
THE FRUITS OF
THEIR LABORS:
THE COMPENSATORY
VISION ASCENDANT

BETWEEN ABBOTT IIN 1985 AND ABBOTT II IN 1990, THE New Jersey reformers would follow through on their legal strategy with perseverance and great skill. This chapter tells the story of their climb from foothold to the legal mountaintop. The narrative is dense and complicated, with three major threads through it.

The first thread is specifically legal. It involves the nature of reformers' court victories at trial and on appeal. A review of the trial court decision will show us how the ELC worked the compensatory vision. In a legal translation process, framing is one thing, and construction is another. Framing is the mental roadmap through legal doctrine, and construction is the nuts and bolts of getting it done. A review of the judicial decisions will also reveal the emergence and evolution of an internal logic to the court battle. As the state raised its arguments in defending against Abbott, the courts increasingly responded by shining the spotlight solely on the poor urban school districts.

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