Gordon MacInnes was the assistant commissioner in the New Jersey Department of Education responsible for Abbot implementation and also a state senator. He is currently a fellow at The Century Foundation.
New Jersey is usually overlooked as a leader in anything except population density, corruption, and Superfund sites. It has also never been known as an education role model, either. It spends more than any other state, but the gaps in student achievement are vast. Some of its larger urban districts, such as Newark and Camden, have become nationally known for their poor student performance and official corruption. The state is also home to long-running and contentious lawsuits over inequities in education funding and disparities in student achievement. But in the last decade, New Jersey has discovered some answers to improving schools for its poorest children by focusing on achieving literacy in the early grades.