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Trenton, NJ - New Jersey Gov.: Vouchers Offer a 'Final Solution' For School System

Published on: May 4, 2010 09:02 AM
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Trenton, NJ - A voucher system that lets any child in New Jersey go to any school, public or private, is the “final solution” to an overly expensive system that continues to fail too many children, Governor Christie said Monday.

Christie told an enthusiastic school choice advocacy group in Washington that he will expand the number of public charter schools and supports a bipartisan bill to provide thousands of public scholarships so children in failing districts may attend private or parochial schools.

“They are trapped by a self-interested, greedy schoolteachers union that cares more about putting money in their own pockets and pockets of members than they care about educating the most vulnerable and needy children,” Christie said.

But Christie said he was committed to going further. He said he saw families in Newark agonize over children losing a lottery to get into a successful charter school, while his income gave him the ability to choose to send his children to Catholic school.

“A single mother in Newark working two jobs to keep a roof over her child’s head should have no less ability to make that choice than my wife and I had,” he said.

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Christie was the keynote speaker at the two-day “national policy summit” in the Omni Shoreham hotel organized by the American Federation for Children, a Washington-based group that advocates for vouchers, charter schools and tax credits for corporations that fund scholarships.

“Gov Christie is taking on the education status quo like no other governor today,” said Betsy Devos, the federation chairwoman,

Christie said the climate is right for passage of a scholarship bill that some advocates say could serve as many as 24,000 children. It is sponsored by Sens. Raymond Lesniak, D-Elizabeth, and Thomas H. Kean Jr., R-Westfield, and will have its first hearing later this month.

A broad coalition including the head of the state Black Ministers Council, traditionally a power base for Democrats, supports the bill.

“If it doesn’t happen now, I’m not sure it’s ever going to happen,” said the Rev. Reginald Jackson, who attended the dinner.

Christie said New Jersey could be a national bellwether.

“If we can make this happen in New Jersey over course of next four years, there is no excuse anyone anywhere not to get this done,” he said.

Steve Baker of the New Jersey Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, said in a phone interview from Trenton that vouchers divert money from public education at a time Christie has already ordered deep budget cuts.

“To talk about taking more money out of the state budget and dedicating it to providing subsidies for private education, it’s incredibly misguided priorities,” Baker said. “It’s fundamentally a matter of whether public education is public or not.”

Baker said that if schools are failing, giving the money that’s being spent on them to other schools won’t fix them, Baker said. The public needs to provide the resources to help them perform, and data have shown New Jersey among the nation’s leaders in closing the gap between the best schools and the worst, he said.

But Jackson said annually increasing budgets did not produce needed results.

Christie used public funds to pay for the overnight trip for himself, his wife and staff to Washington. He will attend a political fund-raiser in Washington Tuesday morning before going back to New Jersey, a spokeswoman said.



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Read Comments (24)  —  Post Yours »

1

 May 04, 2010 at 09:14 AM Anonymous Says:

The state and federal govt will save money with this voucher program! Per pupil spending can be as high as 17000 per year in passaic county, and even more across the state. you can send 3 kids to private school for that amount and they'll receive an education that is by far superior.

2

 May 04, 2010 at 09:36 AM Charlie Hall Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

The state and federal govt will save money with this voucher program! Per pupil spending can be as high as 17000 per year in passaic county, and even more across the state. you can send 3 kids to private school for that amount and they'll receive an education that is by far superior.

Tuition at SAR High School in my neighborhood is a lot higher than that.

More importantly, the use of a Nazi term may have killed any chance for this. Most voters like their nice public schools. That Gov. Christie has showed his hand in the worst possible way puts him in league with those who want to destroy public education.

3

 May 04, 2010 at 09:49 AM Anonymous Says:

"Final Solution", am I only the person offended by that term in this situation?

4

 May 04, 2010 at 10:00 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #2  
Charlie Hall Says:

Tuition at SAR High School in my neighborhood is a lot higher than that.

More importantly, the use of a Nazi term may have killed any chance for this. Most voters like their nice public schools. That Gov. Christie has showed his hand in the worst possible way puts him in league with those who want to destroy public education.

What are you talking about?! Many, many Americans want to destroy public education.

Public education means grade-school sex, drug use, functional illiteracy, bottom 10% rankings in math and science amongst all developed nations, pro-homosexual indoctrination, pro-Arab indoctrination, anti-G-d indoctrination, teacher-student sex, gangs, violent crime, . . .

And on top of all that . . . parents who struggle to pay for private education for their children cannot write off tuition for tax purposes while any business can do so with its wining and dining expenses for clients, salesmen, etc.

5

 May 04, 2010 at 10:03 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #3  
Anonymous Says:

"Final Solution", am I only the person offended by that term in this situation?

get a life...

6

 May 04, 2010 at 10:11 AM Anonymous Says:

All the children of Lakewood should enroll in public schools and let's see how the Government handles it. Even if they raise our taxes it's still cheaper than tuition if you have 5-6 kids in school.

7

 May 04, 2010 at 10:21 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #5  
Anonymous Says:

get a life...

Wow, what a bizzare comment. Are you a self-hating Jew?

8

 May 04, 2010 at 10:51 AM Eli Says:

Reply to #7  
Anonymous Says:

Wow, what a bizzare comment. Are you a self-hating Jew?

I'm a different person, and I agree- get a life. The article highlighted this term just to make a stupid political point. I can't stand when journalists do this. This is obviously not what the governor meant. Everyone knows that this has no connection whatsoever to the Holocaust, and to pretend otherwise, means that you need to get a life.

9

 May 04, 2010 at 11:21 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

The state and federal govt will save money with this voucher program! Per pupil spending can be as high as 17000 per year in passaic county, and even more across the state. you can send 3 kids to private school for that amount and they'll receive an education that is by far superior.

Do you mean that there's a Jewish school in NJ charging less than $6K? Which one?

Please keep in mind that the highest per pupil spending is for children with special needs. My child attends a special needs preschool program in NJ for 5.5 hours a day. The 6 students in her class have one teacher and 3 aides (not including therapists), and she receives PT, OT, and speech therapy. I'm sure her education costs the district well over 17K per year. Special needs education is much more expensive, and skews the average per pupil spending much higher.

10

 May 04, 2010 at 11:36 AM Anonymous Says:

So where do we get a Christie in NY?

11

 May 04, 2010 at 12:03 PM Anonymous Says:

Atleast someone is saying it right, which is also an acheivment in todays climate. will he succeed very questionable. Just read above the unions comment its enough to see their real color.

12

 May 04, 2010 at 01:16 PM Yossi Says:

Way to go, Governor! It is high time to dismantle the government educational monopoly and give all children and parents real choice. The welcome side effect would be weakening of teachers' unions which are among the most evil and self-serving organizations in the US.

Get this done in NJ, and hopefully the rest of the country will follow. Parents are sick an tired of public schools.

13

 May 04, 2010 at 01:24 PM NJ Askin Says:

It's too bad that the Agudah people supported Cristie's opponent in the Governor's race.

They'll find some way to take credit for any money that comes to the community.

14

 May 04, 2010 at 01:36 PM Anonymous Says:

This plan by the governor is a great idea. But I don't think it will happen, the unions are too powerful.

15

 May 04, 2010 at 03:20 PM Suffern Sucotash Says:

Reply to #13  
NJ Askin Says:

It's too bad that the Agudah people supported Cristie's opponent in the Governor's race.

They'll find some way to take credit for any money that comes to the community.

The Agudath Israel crowd talks Republican but (almost) always supports the more liberal Democrat. It has to do with 'handouts'!

16

 May 04, 2010 at 03:28 PM Milhouse Says:

Reply to #3  
Anonymous Says:

"Final Solution", am I only the person offended by that term in this situation?

Why should you be? Just because someone once tried to "solve" a non-problem that didn't need solving, does that mean that there are no longer any real problems that do need to be solved? The public school system is a real problem that needs to be solved once and for all, by driving it out of existence.

17

 May 04, 2010 at 03:29 PM Milhouse Says:

Reply to #2  
Charlie Hall Says:

Tuition at SAR High School in my neighborhood is a lot higher than that.

More importantly, the use of a Nazi term may have killed any chance for this. Most voters like their nice public schools. That Gov. Christie has showed his hand in the worst possible way puts him in league with those who want to destroy public education.

Voters may like their public schools, until they get vouchers with which they can send their kids anywhere they like. Suddenly they won't be so attached to the schools, however "nice" they think they are. The best "public" schools will compete successfully for the vouchers, and essentially become private.

18

 May 04, 2010 at 05:47 PM Lawyer Says:

Reply to #9  
Anonymous Says:

Do you mean that there's a Jewish school in NJ charging less than $6K? Which one?

Please keep in mind that the highest per pupil spending is for children with special needs. My child attends a special needs preschool program in NJ for 5.5 hours a day. The 6 students in her class have one teacher and 3 aides (not including therapists), and she receives PT, OT, and speech therapy. I'm sure her education costs the district well over 17K per year. Special needs education is much more expensive, and skews the average per pupil spending much higher.

In Passaic, where are I live, there are three frum school systems, which charge from $7000 to $11,000 per year. (This is K to 8, High schools are more.)

The two towns the community straddles -- Passaic and Clifton -- spend an average of $21,000 and $17,000 per pupil, respectively. Some of that may be due to special education, which as you say is more expensive. But it seems the public schools are still spending at least as much, if not more, per pupil. And they do not have a dual curriculum.

19

 May 04, 2010 at 06:18 PM Shmuel Says:

I have to say it, for once, the people of New Jersey voted well. Happens very seldom...

20

 May 04, 2010 at 06:30 PM Anonymous Says:

Who is going to get these vouchers though? It sounds like the only people who are going to benefit will be low-income kids in really bad areas like Newark or Patterson. Most yidden probably make to much to qualify for these things. Everyone is clamoring for vouchers but they will benefit few, if any, of us. Our best bet is changing the law to allow us to write off tuition (or at least some of it) from our taxes.

21

 May 04, 2010 at 07:23 PM Shmuel Says:

Reply to #20  
Anonymous Says:

Who is going to get these vouchers though? It sounds like the only people who are going to benefit will be low-income kids in really bad areas like Newark or Patterson. Most yidden probably make to much to qualify for these things. Everyone is clamoring for vouchers but they will benefit few, if any, of us. Our best bet is changing the law to allow us to write off tuition (or at least some of it) from our taxes.

Yes, but don't let better stand in the way of good! Both would be good and I am not sure which one is better. And as to parameters of who qualify, give it little time. It may be intended for undesirable areas, but then it may not be so difficult for a kollel family to qualify for a voucher. And then, when the governor, or any politician, needs Jewish vote in the next election... you get my train of thought.

22

 May 04, 2010 at 11:53 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #18  
Lawyer Says:

In Passaic, where are I live, there are three frum school systems, which charge from $7000 to $11,000 per year. (This is K to 8, High schools are more.)

The two towns the community straddles -- Passaic and Clifton -- spend an average of $21,000 and $17,000 per pupil, respectively. Some of that may be due to special education, which as you say is more expensive. But it seems the public schools are still spending at least as much, if not more, per pupil. And they do not have a dual curriculum.

$7K to $11K tuition would come to $21K to $33K for 3 children, more than the $17K poster #1 mentioned. Tuition in some Lakewood schools may be lower though.

To my knowledge, the 3 frum schools serving the Passaic-Clifton areas provide minimal services for children with special needs--basically resource room teachers and that's it. And generally the resource room teachers are paid through state funds or additional charges to parents.

Public schools have a mandate to educate every child, regardless of expense. Private schools don't have such a mandate. There are frum schools in the North Jersey area that will educate children with special needs; tuition for these schools costs about $40K, and few scholarships are awarded. I know several frum families that have special needs children in public schools, either because they can't afford the tuition at a Jewish school or because even the expensive special needs schools won't provide the services their kids need (and the public schools do)..

23

 May 05, 2010 at 07:40 AM Anonymous Says:

I highly douby the special eduaction per pupil spending is calculated into that 17000-21000 figure. Self contained classroom and spec ed students have different budgets and mandates

24

 May 06, 2010 at 02:08 PM Milhouse Says:

Reply to #20  
Anonymous Says:

Who is going to get these vouchers though? It sounds like the only people who are going to benefit will be low-income kids in really bad areas like Newark or Patterson. Most yidden probably make to much to qualify for these things. Everyone is clamoring for vouchers but they will benefit few, if any, of us. Our best bet is changing the law to allow us to write off tuition (or at least some of it) from our taxes.

A limited reform would have targeted vouchers. But if Christie is serious about reform he will push for vouchers for everyone, with the money coming directly from school board budgets. Every parent, regardless of income, should be entitled to a voucher for each child equal to 80% of what it would cost to send that child to public school.

25

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