Other People's Children: The Battle for Justice and Equality in New Jersey's Schools

By Deborah Yaffe | Go to book overview

4
Son of Robinson

Marilyn Morheuser almost did not get the job that would become the center of her life. In 1979, 350 people applied to run the Education Law Center (ELC), the nonprofit law firm that would soon revive school-funding litigation in New Jersey, and she was not one of them.

In the six years since her law school graduation, Morheuser had worked on an array of liberal legal causes, but she had not yet found a ruling passion to fill every corner of her life, the way the convent and the civil rights movement once had. She had spent a year crafting criminal appeals for the state public defender’s office, then another year representing mental patients for the Department of the Public Advocate, New Jersey’s government ombudsman. For three years, she had worked for the state branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, participating in the landmark housing discrimination case known as Mount Laurel, after the South Jersey suburb whose zoning ordinances, the state supreme court had recently decided, were illegally tailored to keep out the poor. In 1978, she had returned to her first job with the appeals section of the public defender’s office, this time with new supervisory responsibilities, but the office atmosphere was tense, and friends knew Morheuser was not committed to staying. Her dissatisfaction came at an opportune moment, for elsewhere in Newark, the Education Law Center was at a crossroads of its own.

In the dining room of the Ford Foundation’s midtown Manhattan offices, the plates sat atop paper doilies, and many a foundation project had

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Other People's Children: The Battle for Justice and Equality in New Jersey's Schools
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface and Acknowledgments ix
  • The Plaintiffs and Their Families xiii
  • Introduction- The Inheritance 1
  • Part One - The Beginning Robinson V. Cahill, 1970–1976 7
  • 1 - Jersey City''s Tax War 9
  • 2 - Celebrating the Bicentennial 31
  • Part Two - The Crusade Abbott V. Burke, 1979–1998 57
  • 3 - The True Believer 59
  • 4 - Son of Robinson 86
  • 5 - The Families 110
  • 6 - "the System Is Broken" 145
  • 7 - The Twenty-One/Forty-One Rule 176
  • 8 - The Children of Abbott 214
  • 9 - A Constitutional Right to Astroturf 249
  • Part Three - The Never-Ending Story Implementing Abbott, 1998–2006 279
  • 10 - "We Do Not Run School Systems" 281
  • 11 - The Children Grow Up 304
  • Conclusion - Other People''s Children 322
  • Notes 335
  • Works Cited 351
  • Index 363
  • About the Author 371
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