Mission Statement and History of CDEE

As its name suggests, CDEE, the Center for Diversity and Equality in Education, is committed to carrying out high quality and independent research, policy analysis and advocacy to promote the twin values of diversity and equality in the public schools of New Jersey and the rest of the nation. Its goal is to participate actively and directly in changing the lived reality for students, not just to provide research and policy analysis to enable others to do so.

Although CDEE is a new non-profit entity established by Professor Paul Tractenberg in January 2016, it builds upon a long history and a rich legacy. Its most direct antecedent is the Institute on Education Law and Policy at Rutgers-Newark (IELP) established by Professor Tractenberg in September 2000, and directed or co-directed by him until December 31, 2015 when he retired from full-time teaching at Rutgers Law School in Newark and became a professor emeritus. Indeed, CDEE’s signature project, the one focused on the Morris School District, was launched under the auspices of IELP and still has some Rutgers connections.

Of course, the roots of CDEE are much deeper than that. Ever since he joined the Rutgers Law School faculty in July 1970, Professor Tractenberg’s professional life has been focused on using high quality research, policy analysis and advocacy to improve the educational opportunities of New Jersey’s and the nation’s at-risk students, especially those living in poor urban school districts. His two primary focal points have been equalizing the funding of those urban school districts and desegregating the schools in whatever ways could feasibly work, including district consolidation.

In the case of the former, Professor Tractenberg has been involved in New Jersey’s almost five decade long effort in the courts through Abbott v. Burke and, before that, Robinson v. Cahill. Early in that effort in 1973, Professor Tractenberg established and was the first director of the Education Law Center, which has represented the student plaintiffs in Abbott since the case was initiated in 1981.

In the case of school desegregation, Professor Tractenberg has considered the 1971 decision of the New Jersey Supreme Court in Jenkins v. Morris Township School District, which paved the way to the merger of the Morris Township and Morristown districts, to be a decision of enormous importance.  Ever since then, he has wanted to launch a project studying the history, evolution, current status, and larger impact of that merger. CDEE’s Morris Project is the realization of that desire. Earlier, between 1985 and 2002, Professor Tractenberg sought, with considerable success, to apply Jenkins to the case involving the Englewood, Englewood Cliffs and Tenafly school districts.

Since CDEE was established, it has been fortunate to receive generous financial support from the Fund for New Jersey, the Ford Foundation, the Morris Educational Foundation, the Mills Foundation and a number of individual donors. The Center's fiscal sponsor is Save Our Schools New Jersey. It has been fortunate in another respect—the ability to engage highly qualified and deeply motivated staff including an experienced lawyer, education faculty, several post-doctoral and doctoral students, and a corps of law students.


Our Supporters


                                           Mills Foundation


          Individual Donors


Center for Diversity and Equality in Education


Tractenberg headshot 073116.jpg

Paul Tractenberg was the Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor and the Alfred C. Clapp, Jr., Distinguished Public Service Professor of Law at Rutgers Law School in Newark until his retirement from full-time law teaching on January 1, 2016. Since then, he has assumed emeritus status, and has established and is president of a new non-profit organization, the Center for Diversity and Equality in Education (CDEE).

In 1973, Professor Tractenberg established the Education Law Center and was its first director for three years. In that capacity, he was instrumentally involved in Robinson v. Cahill, the predecessor case to Abbott v. Burke, New Jersey’s long-running school funding equalization and educational reform case. Professor Tractenberg played a major role in Abbott as well. All told, he has presented arguments in the New Jersey Supreme Court 14 times in that litigation.

In 2000,  he established the Rutgers-Newark Institute on Education Law and Policy (IELP), and he directed or co-directed it until his 2016 retirement. During those years, IELP was the home base for Professor Tractenberg's research and advocacy, including a December 2016 report published by The Century Foundation on the Morris School District's efforts to achieve school integration andthe reports referenced below.

Professor Tractenberg is the author of Courting Justice: Ten New Jersey Cases that Shook the Nation (Rutgers University Press, 2013).  He has authored or edited five other books, and has written many dozens of articles for law, education and public policy journals, book chapters, book reviews and op-eds mainly on education law and policy topics. He also has authored or co-authored many research reports, including two reports in 2013 on New Jersey’s extreme educational segregation published in collaboration with the UCLA Civil Rights Project. One of those reports has recently been released in updated form and a CDEE report issued on May 1, 2018 updates and expands upon the second 2013 report. Professor Ryan Coughlan, a senior member of the CDEE research team, has been co-author and/or a lead researcher on these four reports.

Recent Publications

NJ Spotlight: OP-ED: Newark's Long Road To Local Control Of Schools - Where Will It Lead? by Paul Tractenberg, September 21, 2017.





A STATUS QUO OF SEGREGATION: RACIAL AND ECONOMIC IMBALANCE IN NEW JERSEY SCHOOLS, 1989-2010, John Kucsera, Gary Orfield, Jennifer Ayscue, and Genevieve Siegel-Hawley, October, 2013.



Allison Roda is an assistant professor of education in the Molloy College Ed.D. program Educational Leadership for Diverse Learning Communities; aroda@molloy.edu. Roda’s research and teaching interests are focused on urban education policy, educational stratification, families and schools, and qualitative research methods. She is the author of Inequality in Gifted and Talented Programs: Parental Choices About Status, School Opportunity, and Second-Generation Segregation (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). Roda’s work has appeared in the American Journal of Education, the Journal of Education Policy, and Quartz. Her works have also been published by the Century Foundation and the Hechinger Report. She received her Ph.D. in sociology and education from Teachers College at Columbia University.


Ryan W. Coughlan is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Guttman Community College, CUNY and Senior Quantitative Researcher at the Center for Diversity and Equality in Education. He studies the social context of schooling. Dr. Coughlan's research uses geospatial statistical methods to analyze school zoning practices, patterns of school segregation, educational outcomes, and social bonds between neighborhoods and schools. Along with his research on the social context of schooling and his related publications in academic journals, Dr. Coughlan has edited and authored four books on the history of progressive education, the social foundations of education, and the sociology of education. His research has been featured in The New York TimesThe Philadelphia Inquirer, and on NPR's All Things Considered.

Recently, Dr. Coughlan co-authored a report published by the Century Foundation on the Morris School District’s efforts to remedy school segregation and a separate report published by the UCLA Civil Rights Project on general trends in school segregation across New Jersey.

Dr. Coughlan earned his Ph.D. in Urban Systems with a concentration in Urban Education from Rutgers University, Newark and holds a M.A. from the City College of New York and an A.B. with honors from Harvard University.

Recent Publications

Exploring Education: An Introduction to the Foundations of Education, 5th Edition, by Alan R. Sadovnik, Peter W. Cookson, Jr., Susan F. Semel, Ryan W Coughlan

Schools of Tomorrow, Schools of Today:  Progressive Education in the 21st Century- Second Edition, Edited by Alan R. Sadovnik, Susan Semel, and Ryan W. Coughlan, 2016.

Leaders in the Sociology of Education, Intellectual Self-Portraits, 2016

Sociology of Education:  A Critical Reader, 3rd Edition, Edited by Alan R. Sadovnik and Ryan W. Coughlan, 2015.


Staff: Deirdre Dougherty, Sarah Blaine, Nicole Espin Sarah Matchett and Farah Rahaman.

Morris Project Advisory Council

"A distinguished advisory council for the Morris Project was formed in November 2015 and had a half-day meeting at the Ford Foundation in December 2015." The following agreed to participate although not all were able to attend that meeting:


Elise Boddie, Professor of Law - Rutgers University-Newark

Eddie Fergus, Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy - New York University

Ariana Mangual Figueroa, Assistant Professor of Education - Rutgers University-New Brunswick

Michelle Fine, Distinguished Professor - CUNY Graduate Center






Erica Frankenberg, Associate Professor of Education - The Pennsylvania State University

Fred Frelow, Education and Scholarship Program Officer - Ford Foundation

Richard Kahlenberg, Senior Fellow - The Century Foundation

Patrick McGuinn, Associate Professor of Education - Drew University


Pedro Noguera, Distinguished Professor of Education - University of California, Los Angeles

Gary Orfield, Professor of education, law, political science and urban planning - University of California, Los Angeles 

Marc Pfeiffer, Assistant Director - Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy

Halley Potter, Fellow - The Century Foundation



Amy Stuart Wells, Professor of Sociology and   Education - Teachers College at Columbia University