STATE – Gov. Chris Christie spoke in support of the Educational Opportunity Scholarship Act last week.
The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-Union), would establish a tax credit program to fund scholarships for children in a limited number of public school districts – the worst-performing ones in the state.
“We need to pass the Opportunity Scholarship Act,” Christie said. It would “give parents an opportunity to give their children a chance, regardless of their own economic status. Right now in our failing school districts in New Jersey, zip code is destiny,” he added.
The proposal has received criticism from the New Jersey Education Association, the union that represents the state’s public school teachers, and other sources. They say that the program would drain money from public schools that can ill afford it. Critics call it a “voucher program” designed to funnel public money to private schools.
“[The Opportunity Scholarship Act] will help thousands of children escape their chronically failing schools,” Christie said. “This is not a statewide voucher program. This is a program in the worst-performing school districts in New Jersey. And what we say to those parents right now is ‘Don’t worry, we assuaged our guilt by sending more and more money from Trenton — your money, by the way — back here and saying you should be satisfied just that we’re spending more. Your kids aren’t getting results, but at least we’re sending you more money’ because that follows the old myth that money equals a quality education. We know that’s not the truth.”
The bill stalled in the last Legislative session, which ended on Jan. 9. It will have to be re-introduced in the current session to receive further consideration.
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