School vouchers are back on the table in New Jersey! DVAU members, we must mobilize against the effort to finance religious schools with taxpayer money.
After a winter hiatus, a trimmed-down Opportunity Scholarship Act proposal is back in the legislature with a prominent new sponsor in the state Assembly but the loss of another in the Senate.
State Assemblyman Angel Fuentes D-Camden yesterday said he filed a new bill that would include just seven districts as part of the pilot to provide scholarships — or vouchers — to low-income students to go to schools of their choice, public or private.
More notably, the second primary sponsor on the bill is state Assemblyman Louis Greenwald D-Camden, the Assembly majority leader who has said he would support a smaller pilot and now has his name attached to one.
“I am not a believer in vouchers [across the state], but I do believe in a few select communities where children are a prisoner of their own poverty and denied a right to an education,” Greenwald said yesterday.
The new Assembly bill comes a week after state Sen. Thomas Kean Jr. R-Union filed a new version of the bill he has long sponsored but also in fewer districts. But it was missing a key sponsor, state Sen. Raymond Lesniak D-Union, the longtime and prominent backer of the bill who gave it key support on the Democratic side.
Lesniak yesterday said he dropped his sponsorship for a variety of reasons, including the closing by the Archdiocese of Newark of another prominent Catholic school in his hometown of Elizabeth. St. Patrick High School, the basketball powerhouse, might have been saved if a voucher bill passed, he said. The archdiocese had been a prominent backer of the long-debated bill.