“No child’s dreams are less worthy than any others,” Christie said in his speech at Hillsborough High School on Tuesday. Currently, $5.1 billion of that money goes to 31 districts and $4 billion goes to 546 districts, Christie said. But in practice, this plan tells the public the very opposite. The plan would help students such as those at Hillsborough High School, located in a majority white suburb, but it would take money away from the most disadvantaged kids in New Jersey.
Hillsborough Township would receive an 86 percent increase in per pupil funding under the plan while in Newark, a majority black and Latino school district, funding would fall by 69 percent, according to Slate. Christie is proposing to make it an amendment to the state constitution. According to NJ Advance Media’s analysis, Camden would have its aid cut by 78 percent and 37 districts in total would see an over 50 percent reduction in aid.
Now, school districts receive $9.1 billion in direct support from the state. The formula allocates more per-pupil money to low-income students, Dual language learners, and special education students, but under Christie’s plan a formula would only provide extra money for special education students.
The Newark Teachers Union stated its opposition to the proposal. Newark schools' water supplies were tested in March and found to be contaminated with lead levels above 15 parts per billion. Christie responded by saying they were "nowhere near crisis or dangerous levels." Lead levels have been elevated in the school's water since at least 2012.
Wendell Steinhauer, president of the New Jersey Education Association, gave a statement published by Bloomberg which read, “Gov. Christie’s proposal would result in a huge step backward to the days when poor families in economically challenged communities were left to fend for themselves... His plan would subsidize those who have the most at the expense of those who have the least. That is the opposite of fair; it’s despicable.”
The state is still under court order from the Abbott v. Burke decision to provide more funding to its poorest districts. In 1985, the New Jersey Supreme Court found that education students received in the 31 poorest districts was inadequate and unconstitutional.
New Jersey State Senator Mike Doherty said he supports the proposal and said taxpayers in wealthy municipalities need state property tax relief. He told NJ.com, "You have all these towns like Hoboken and Jersey City where people are living in million-dollar condos and paying next to nothing in taxes." The proposal does have a Democratic supporter -- Brick Township's Mayor John Ducey who said school funding would be "fair and even."
Author: CASEY QUINLAN