Researching Public Law and Public Policy in the Public Interest

Publications

To write an ethnography about poor urban people is to risk courting controversy. While all ethnographers face questions about how well they knew their site or how much their stories can be trusted, the tone and content of those questions typically remain within the bounds of collegial discourse. Ethnographers of poor minorities have incited distinct passion and at times acrimony, inspiring accusations of stereotyping, misrepresentation, sensationalism, and even cashing in on the problems of the poor (Fischer 2014; see Boelen 1992; Reed 1994; Wacquant 2002; Jones 2010; Betts 2014; Rios 2015)...
CLiME Writing Specialist Erica Tom presents on Publicly Engaged Scholarship, as part of the writing seminar series given for the Equity and Opportunity Studies Fellowship, a partnership between CLiME at the Rutgers Law School, and the Graduate School at Rutgers University-Newark.
2014-2015 Equity + Opportunity Studies Fellow, Center on Law in Metropolitan Equity (CLiME): This paper hopes to clarify the rights of students suffering from traumas, while pointing out the failures of districts and proposing possible solutions to the problems. This paper first examines what kind of special education accommodations students suffering from Traumas are entitled to. By examining the Individuals with Disability Act, New Jersey’s special education laws and section 504 of the American’s with Disabilities Act, and case law I am able to clarify what districts are required to do for students who suffer from traumas. I also investigate how districts fail in classifying and accommodating students with traumas, mainly those students who are minorities or from poor socioeconomic classes. After looking to case law to see where courts may be failing in enforcing special education rights, I look to law journal articles. Finally this utilizes Harvard Law’s research on students with traumas, and how they have worked to improve those student’s rights.
2014-2015 Equity + Opportunity Studies Fellow, Center on Law in Metropolitan Equity: Municipal court cases account for the bulk of all legal filings and are often the only interaction that many people have with the judicial system, yet there is a significant lack of research on the impact of municipal courts on our daily lives. The municipal court experience is often the formative factor in developing an individual’s perception of the judicial system. Quite often, our poorest residents have to shoulder the burden of frequenting the most ineffective and busiest municipal courts in the state. Part I of the paper provides an introduction to the municipal court system in New Jersey and the role that they play in regulating the daily lives of New Jersey residents. Part II is an examination of two neighboring municipal courts. Part III consists of an analysis of how the judiciary defines the role of municipal courts in society. Part IV is an evaluation of current judicial reforms and whether these reforms are tailored to address the problems which plague municipal courts. This paper will conclude with recommendations for municipal court reform.
2014-2015 Equity + Opportunity Studies Fellow, Center on Law in Metropolitan Equity (CLiME): Food scarcity is a problem throughout the United States, but particularly acute within the urban ecosystem. As a result of mid-20th century urban flight, many urban supermarkets have followed the dollar, leaving urban communities- predominantly communities of color- underserved by traditional grocery retailers. To address this, I explore the idea of creating a sustainable nonprofit/for-profit partnership that can harness the strengths of both sectors to forge an enduring and duplicable hybrid solution to inequitable access.
2014-2015 Equity + Opportunity Studies Fellow, Center on Law in Metropolitan Equity (CLiME): The low wage labor market today is characterized by the increased utilization of part-time and temporary workers, with volatile work schedules. These practices shift business risk to workers, and place their lives in a constant state of instability. Unpredictable work schedules prevent workers from pursuing supplemental employment, training, or attending to caregiver responsibilities. This diminishes the future economic potential of workers, effectively creating a worker caste system, and establishing a structural barrier to income mobility. Policy intervention is needed to curb the unpredictable work scheduling practices that have become a ubiquitous part of low wage work.
2014-2015 Equity + Opportunity Studies Fellow, Center on Law in Metropolitan Equity (CLiME): This paper examines how suburban redevelopment functions to perpetuate inequality at the individual, municipal, and metropolitan levels. This paper first examines the role of homeownership in the access to opportunities in the United States, and then examines the relationship between exclusion and inequality. I specifically examine two types of redevelopment: 1) redevelopment initiated by city council action, and 2) single-lot homeowner redevelopment. I conclude with some of the implications of this trend of suburban redevelopment on segregation, the provision of public goods, and the continuation of structural inequality at various levels.
Cheryl Sharp, MSW, MWT, Karen Johnson, MSW, LCSW, and Pamela Black from the National Council on Behavioral Health present an excellent overview of on Trauma-Sensitive Schools.
Since the achievement gap has been utilized to justify a plethora of reforms, it is critical to re-analyze our understanding of the phenomenon, as well as our understanding of educational equity in a broader sense. This paper studies the way that equity has been conceptualized within the education system, including how the achievement gap has been defined, measured, and addressed by practitioners and researchers, ultimately examining strengths and limitations, with implications for more effective ways of addressing the issue.
ABSTRACT: Housing policy can play an important role in improving or impeding the economic well-being of low-income households. Through this paper, we aim to better equip researchers, policymakers, and practitioners for conversations about the links between housing policy and economic mobility. The first half of this paper clarifies common definitions and measurements of inequality and mobility. Adopting the lens of economic mobility for examining how housing policies can address challenges of inequality in society today, the second half of the paper looks at five categories of housing policy levers that affect economic mobility: tax policy, block grants, rental assistance, fair housing, and homeownership programs.

Pages

Louisville on the Ohio River, c/o City Mayors.
The merger of Louisville (Kentucky) with neighboring Jefferson County has created much excitement in US regions looking at this option to improve their local conditions. The Louisville merger, which took effect on 6 January 2003, after voter approval in November 2000, has gained much attention. It was the first large consolidation of an American city with its surrounding county in 30 years, when Indianapolis and Marion County (Indiana) merged.
Suburbanization and sprawl present new issues and challenges of regional inequity and equal opportunity. As awareness of the effects of the impacts of uneven and unhealthy development patterns grow, the debate for dealing with the fallout of sprawl is being taken up and policy agenda is emerging to address smart growth. With the emergence of the region rather than the city as the dominant economic and social geographic unit and key policy changes, the article propounds that the mistakes of the past fifty years can be reversed and regional equity achieved. The article makes it clear that life changes are largely determined by where one lives. The development patterns detailed in the article directly relate to an extreme inequality for poor people of color, but new factors are emerging that create a platform for addressing the inequality. New ways of thinking and acting regionally allows for development to be addressed more broadly and equitably. This kind of regional thinking is captured in extensive community planning processes, policies such as inclusionary zoning, and jobs initiatives. Policy will continue to be the springboard for drastic change in sustainable progress and the article proposes equitable development as an action and policy agenda that can align multiple interests into a sustainable movement for positive change.
Health-related problems are strongly associated with the social characteristics of communities and neighborhoods.We need to treat community contexts as important units of analysis in their own right, which in turn calls for new measurement strategies as well as theoretical frameworks that do not simply treat the neighborhood as a “trait” of the individual. Recent findings from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods support this thesis.Two major themes merit special attention: (1) the importance of collective efficacy for understanding health disparities in the modern city; and (2) the salience of spatial dynamics that go beyond the confines of local neighborhoods. Further efforts to explain the causes of variation in collective processes associated with healthy communities may provide innovative opportunities for preventive intervention.

Pages