The Legislature Must Take Action To Ensure That Every New Jersey Child Receives A High Quality Education
IMPORTANT REFORM TO FIX NEW JERSEY’S BROKEN EDUCATION SYSTEM AWAITS LEGISLATIVE ACTION
The School Children First Act
S-2881 Introduced in the Senate: 5/19/11; A-4168 Introduced in the Assembly: 6/23/11
The quality of the teacher in front of the classroom is the most important in-school factor affecting student achievement. New Jersey must establish a system that rewards the many quality educators in our state, provide support to those who need improvement, and, when necessary, remove those who are unable to improve.
Modeled after Governor Christie’s proposals, The School Children First Act reforms the rules for teacher evaluation, tenure and compensation to ensure that teachers and schools are held accountable for student progress while rewarding excellence:
Governor Christie: “Let’s talk first about what this issue really is and what it isn’t. This is not an issue about attacking teachers. This is not an issue about saying teachers are bad and need to be thrown out of schools. This is, in fact, exactly the opposite. This issue is about first and foremost our children and how much those teachers who really are good and really care about education, how they can be empowered to teach those children and prepare them better for higher education or for a career."
The Opportunity Scholarship Act
S-1872 Introduced in the Senate: 5/10/10; A-2810 Introduced in the Assembly: 6/10/10
Every child deserves a high-quality education, but too often, low-income and lower middle-income children are trapped in failing schools. The Opportunity Scholarship Act will help thousands of children escape their chronically failing schools by establishing a tax credit program to fund scholarships for low-income students in the state’s lowest performing public schools. The scholarships will enable students to attend out-of-district public schools, or non-public schools anywhere in the state that choose to participate in the program.
Governor Christie: “I will sign this Legislation if it reaches my desk. It is just that important. It’s about parental choice it’s about parents having the opportunity to choose what’s best for their child regardless of their economic circumstances or their zip code. Now I don’t know who could be opposed to that.”
Charter Reform Bill
A-4167 Introduced in the Assembly: 6/23/11
Sweeping changes to New Jersey’s charter school laws are needed to remove barriers and roadblocks to the growth of high-quality charter schools. The current laws and rules governing charter schools act as a deterrent to growth instead of fostering expansion. It is time to aggressively encourage some of the nation’s most-respected and successful charter school operators to come to New Jersey while making it possible to implement the same model of innovation and results in other new and existing charter schools.
The Charter Reform bill will encourage greater expansion and innovation of high-quality charter schools:
Governor Christie: “It is not acceptable that a child who is neglected in a New Jersey school must accept it because of their zip code. Charter schools give parents and children a choice and provide a much-needed alternative to help ensure every child in New Jersey receives a quality education. We cannot ask children and families that have been relegated to failing public schools to wait any longer for relief while their hope is stolen away.”
NEW JERSEY HAS ALREADY TAKEN THE FIRST STEP TOWARD EDUCATION REFORM WITH THE PASSAGE OF THE URBAN HOPE ACT
Newark Mayor Cory Booker: “I am in full support of the Urban Hope Act, which will provide for additional learning space and new, high quality public school options for Newark’s young people. The Act offers much needed relief in parts of our district that have experienced chronic overcrowding, and will inject new energy, resources, ideas and learning models into our school system.” (“Statement Of Support On Urban Hope Act - Mayor Cory A. Booker,” Press Release, 1/9/12)
Camden Mayor Dana Redd: “For far too long, our urban youth have struggled to break through the achievement barriers found in the chronically failing schools in urban communities like Camden. This Transformation Schools initiative will give these students and their parents renewed hope, access to quality educational opportunities and the ability to reach their potential for a productive and successful future.” (“Governor Chris Christie Announces Innovative Transformation Schools Initiative,” Press Release, 6/9/11)
Sen. Donald Norcross (D-Camden/Gloucester): “Students in Camden, Newark and Trenton are being forced to attend failing schools where they are deprived of the quality education they deserve … It is our responsibility to provide them with access to better educational options. With school construction projects at a standstill and alternative educational opportunities out of reach for so many, this allows local school districts to partner with nonprofits to provide new hope to our children for success.” (Trish Graber, “Norcross, Fuentes, Wilson-Sponsored ‘Urban Hope Act’ Heads To Governor,” PolitickerNJ, 1/9/12)
Sen. Robert W. Singer (R-Ocean County): “Republican State Sen. Robert W. Singer of Ocean County said he hoped the program was eventually expanded to Lakewood, his home town. He noted an Asbury Park Press article that highlighted the fact that only 37 percent of Lakewood High School students graduate.” (Jason Method, “School election changes, private-public schools OK'd by Legislature,” Asbury Park Press, 1/10/11)
Assemblyman Angel Fuentes (D-Camden/Gloucester): “The fact that thousands of students in our state are trapped in failing schools is shameful … It is incumbent upon us as public officials to do everything we can to provide them access to good schools in their communities that will give them the skills they need to be successful in college or in the workforce. With construction of schools in these cities stalled, this bill creates a mechanism to allow for new projects to go forward with the use of private funding.” (Trish Graber, “Norcross, Fuentes, Wilson-Sponsored ‘Urban Hope Act’ Heads To Governor,” PolitickerNJ, 1/9/12)