Better way than courts telling your kids which school to attend? (Opinion)
A lawsuit recently filed maintains that the public schools in the Garden State are among the most segregated in the nation. They have an interesting point bringing up the fact that schools in Camden, Patterson, Newark and other cities are mainly comprised of minority students. The reason? Those cities are mainly comprised of minority school age children.
It is a solid argument to point out that the graduation rates and the overall quality of education in our cities is sub par when compared to some of the wealthy suburbs. That said, the cost per student in our cities is much higher. I'd go so far as to say that the lack of educational and economic opportunity for kids living in many areas of our cities is a civil rights crisis. On that end, I completely understand the lawsuit.
On the other hand, suing to eliminate the requirement of residency in a school district could be worse than the problem. I spoke to Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick today about the consequences of having the courts force integration among kids from all over the state to neighboring public schools.
Perhaps the solution lies in the fact that taxpayers are continuing to subsidize failing schools. Why aren't our city schools up to the expected standard of public education in New Jersey? Certainly we've thrown enough money at the problem. A long time ago, before Senator Cory Booker became a champion of the far Left, he was a proponent of school choice. The idea that parents could take their tax 'investment' and apply it to any school in the state who was willing to accept students from outside the district is a good one. The expansion of privately managed charter schools and tax credits for parochial schools have all been discussed as alternatives. Even tax incentives for home schoolers should be on the table.
It's unfortunate that because of the weak leadership of most of our politicians, including Senator Booker, nothing has been done to change the future for tens of thousands of kids. If the court rules in favor of the plaintiffs then get ready to watch the chaos. Imagine the legislature trying to figure out who goes to school where? Just add that as potentially one more reason for people to pack up and head out. Let's hope that we can have a conversation in Trenton about actual solutions before it comes to that.
Bill Spadea is on the air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., talkin’ Jersey, taking your calls at 1-800-283-1015. Tweet him @NJ1015 or @BillSpadea. The opinions expressed here are solely those of Bill Spadea.
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