Florio Pans Lesniak Scheme

STATE – Former Gov. James Florio said state Sen. Ray Lesniak’s plan to privatize New Jersey’s educational system amounts to “tossing in the towel” and he used such strong terms as “insidious” to describe the plan as “part and parcel of a troubling set of developments that are shredding the very essence of traditional American values.”

Lesniak’s proposal would give tax credits to businesses that underwrite vouchers to allow some children to attend private schools.


That is a rejection of traditional American values, according to Florio, who noted that the scheme would leave the majority of students in failing schools as “collateral damage.”

“The task of improving all of our failing schools to acceptable levels of learning is apparently too great a challenge for voucher advocates,” Florio said. “They would unilaterally surrender in the upcoming global economic competition.”

“[W]hile a small percentage of our affluent citizens capture a greater percentage of our income and national wealth, the vast majority of middle and working-class citizens fall further and further behind,” Florio said. “Now, we have this voucher initiative to further divide us into those who will be ready for the knowledge-based economy and those who will be left to fester in failing failing schools from which we have siphoned off the most motivated students.”

The former governor also expressed concerns that state-funded vouchers to send students to parochial schools would violate the First Amendment’s prohibition of public funding for religious activities.

“A supreme irony is that as our foreign policy seeks to foster secular democracies in the Middle East, we would have our government start to finance religious institutions,” said Florio.

See: American values, justice & opportunity at risk

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