Statewide Education Organizing Committee of NJ (SEOC)
Since 2003, the Statewide Education Organizing Committee has organized for parents, grandparents, and grassroots leaders in New Jersey's low-income school districts to take a seat at the decision-making table. SEOC uses direct action organizing approaches to fight for full funding for New Jersey's low income school districts, thorough implementation of reforms, the restarting of school construction, and small learning communities. Groups in Newark, Jersey City, Plainfield, and Asbury Park have formed district-wide organizations separate from school systems so that their independent voices can be heard.
As part of the Abbott reforms, the Supreme Court specifically ordered that the Department of Education and Abbott school districts facilitate parent engagement in school governance and decision making. The progress in this area has not been adequate and SEOC evolved to help parents assert their rights to participate. SEOC helps groups develop by recruiting parent leaders already active in PTOs and school leadership teams to form district wide SEOC chapters. These SEOC groups are then well positioned to raise tough questions when school systems fail to carry through on the promises of Abbott reforms.
In January 2008, the NJ Legislature passed the School Funding Reform Act which undermines many of the mandated reforms and parity funding which earlier "Abbott" court cases had established. SEOC and allies are working to reverse the negative effects of this Act both locally and statewide.