DVAU opposes some of the education-related items in NJ Governor Christie’s new budget. Christie is allocating funds for “school choice” programs in certain districts. Sounds good, until you find out that over 85% of private schools are religious, and NJ’s state constitution prohibits the use of taxpayer dollars to subsidize religious education. Also, “school choice” is NO CHOICE for the neediest, most at-risk students. So-called “scholarships” are often awarded to families who can already afford some or all of the private school tuition. These private and religious schools can cherrypick the students they want to keep, and dismiss the students who might strain their biased system.
But his ideas often bother groups like teachers unions, which say that expanding choice for students ultimately can drain needed funding from struggling schools — not to mention cost their members jobs.
He’s asking lawmakers to approve $2 million to give 200 low-income students in struggling districts scholarships up to $10,000 each. The scholarships could be used to pay tuition at private schools or out-of-district public schools.
A bigger version of the program, known as Opportunity Scholarships, has been introduced several times in the Legislature. The broader plan calls for financing the system by giving companies tax breaks in exchange for donations. Despite support from some Democrats and some Republicans, big rallies backing it and Christie promoting it, it’s never gotten much traction.