“There has been enormous progress in New Jersey, including sweeping changes to tenure and teacher evaluation; a permanent interdistrict public school choice program; expanded charter schools and a ratified, groundbreaking teacher contract in Newark. And we did it all in a bi-partisan manner. But what’s clear is that there is much more to do and we need to keep our eyes on the prize. Our kids deserve that from us.”
-Tom Kean, regarding New Jersey’s progress report on education reform
Since 2004, Tom has been in the vanguard of offering a solution to the children trapped in failing school districts by providing them the power to choose an alternative. His Opportunity Scholarship Act provides tax credits to encourage private sponsorship of scholarships for students in chronically failing schools to attend out-of district public schools or nonpublic schools. Tom Kean’s proposed reform will immediately put disadvantaged students in a position to succeed.
Education is, indeed, today’s civil rights issue. The shortcomings of New Jersey’s underperforming schools are hurting minority and economically disadvantaged students the most. Furthermore, the opportunity cost of a child not developing the skills and intellect that are necessary in today’s global economy is unfathomable.
New Jersey must follow through with America’s promise of an equal opportunity for every child. Parents and guardians from failing school districts must have an option for their kids. Kids deserve better than the status quo.
This initiative, by no means, is an abandonment of the failing school districts. The state of New Jersey will continue to invest in any and all means of improving chronically failing school districts so that they, too, can offer the children in their communities a quality education. However, until these schools improve to acceptable standards, extraordinary measures must be taken to ensure another generation of children are not neglected by a school that is not meeting their needs.
Each and every year that this bipartisan legislation is stymied by inaction, thousands of children are denied the same quality education that their peers receive elsewhere.
New Jersey should not ask another child to wait any longer for the opportunity that in America is their birthright.