Special education expenditures in New Jersey: An analysis of equity by district, wealth, and location

Philip Hunter Nisonoff, Fordham University


One of the most challenging issues and concerns facing educational administrators today is coping with the trends established in K-12 special education programs. In New Jersey, the cost for these services has increased by $662 million, or 37%, from 2002 to 2006. Of particular concern is the rise in the number of severely handicapped children. Equity has been a major topic in American politics since the colonial period, and the goal of establishing equity in the public schools of the United States has been a major focus of political and legal arguments since 1971. Since then, states have made steady and significant progress toward equalization of spending for regular education students. With the change in New Jersey's funding formula and the increasing rate of special education spending, the question existed as to whether funds allocated for special needs students were distributed equitably among New Jersey's socio-economically diverse population. A review of New Jersey's education finance system, as it related to special education, was conducted to determine if it met standards of equity and fairness. Further, a statistical analysis was conducted to determine if district characteristics such as enrollment, geographic location, and special education classification rates are related to spending patterns for special education. To date, few and very limited comprehensive studies of equity are available on the New Jersey special education funding/spending allocation system. This study concluded that the goal of achieving funding equity for all children has not yet been achieved because the established special education finance system in New Jersey is conditioned on local wealth.

Subject Area

School finance|School administration|Special education

Recommended Citation

Nisonoff, Philip Hunter, "Special education expenditures in New Jersey: An analysis of equity by district, wealth, and location" (2007). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3255068.