NEW JERSEY’S EDUCATION REFORM IMPERATIVE

As a member of both the New Jersey Assembly Budget and Education Committees, I get to see first-hand the intersection of our state’s fiscal and educational policies. This vantage point has given me a greater appreciation of the difficult decisions that New Jersey faces with respect to ensuring that every child is given the best chance to succeed academically, while recognizing the financial constraints which sometimes limit our options. However, by serving in this capacity I am emboldened to push our educational system in a way that allows all of our children to fulfill their enormous promise. This promise can only be nurtured forward by a comprehensive and cohesive agenda that no longer pits tax payer against tax payer or child against child, but rather recognizes that through our common purpose we can raise the educational standards of every child.

image.jpegI firmly and ardently believe in our public education system and its promise of societal elevation through academic accomplishment. However, to ignore that our system of public education inadequately prepares some segments of our society to compete in the global marketplace is foolish. That is why I remain committed to developing a strong, stable and consistent funding system for our public schools. A system that ensures a quality education remains viable for all New Jerseyans regardless of their zip code. That is why I have supported the use of scholarships to help students in failing schools, attend schools that are succeeding. And, I am not alone.
 
A May 2012 Quinnipiac University poll, showed that 7 out of 10 New Jersey residents supported scholarships for students in chronically, underperforming urban schools to attend schools that are succeeding. While this information is reaffirming it is in no way surprising to any of us who believe that we as a society have a responsibility to address our state’s most chronically failing schools. To do nothing, would be to sentence generations of our youth, trapped in a cycle of failing education, to a future destitute of opportunity and hope.
 
I liken this issue to a fire that is burning in our cities and we are bogged down in rhetoric about who is going to hold the hose, which hydrant we should connect to, and who will open the flow. Generations of our neediest children have either dropped out, opted out of continuing education, matriculated to college ill or unprepared, or have dropped into lives of poverty and malaise. All while policy-makers have not demonstrated the will to change this ill-fated trajectory of our children’s education.
 
We can continue to debate who is at fault for the failure of many of our urban schools…while our children still suffer, or we can be proactive about demanding a change. We can no longer turn a blind eye to this reality. Let’s give our urban children in chronically-failing schools a chance for a brighter future….and let’s do it NOW!


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  • commented 2014-04-25 08:22:43 -0400
    Sadly we are living in a society where schools with higher percentages of students living in poverty are labeled failures, and where schools with smaller percentages of economically disadvantaged students are not. So called education reform is not helping our state’s most poor and vulnerable students. Charter Schools are increasing segregation and vouchers would do the same, while stripping our public schools of the resources and funding necessary to function. Our students deserve much better than this. What is happening in Camden and Newark is disgraceful. We need to support our public schools, not decimate them.
  • commented 2014-04-17 14:42:23 -0400
    I would consider a failing school as one in which, for the past two school years: at least 40% of the school’s students did not pass both the language arts and mathematics subject areas of the State assessments, or at least 60% of the students did not pass either the language arts or mathematics subject areas
  • commented 2014-04-11 13:47:59 -0400
    Agreed, Nj Voter. Another trap is the charter system. Privately funded entities that are subsidized by public Funding but are run with little to no public oversight are not the answer either.

    Also beware of “teacher placement agencies” that take a fee to provide under-trained, un-credentialed college graduates from non-education university programs to teach in our at-risk schools. Bill A-2032 would Appropriate public funding to place college graduates in at-risk schools as “temporary employees” with only 2-year contracts, these temps have no education coursework, save a 5-week crash course" in “Teaching methods.” They are not certified by the state of NJ. Once their contracts are up, they can leave behind the communities in which they worked to get a job in the field that matches their college degree. There is no teacher investment in the community when you hire untrained temps to replace the qualified professional staff. As well, there are plenty of qualified professionals available to teach who absorbed their own training costs—why should taxpayers pay a private organization to find teachers? This bill would waste taxpayer money on a Private service that provides Under-trained temps. PLEASE oppose this bill, Assemblyman Singleton.

    The biggest problem with “education reform” as a movement is that it is changing things that do not need changing while ignoring things that do. The schools aren’t the problem. The communities are broken—let’s focus on supporting them with wrap-around services for children who live in poverty. Let’s provide nutrition counseling, healthcare, before and after school programs, parent counseling, etc. Perhaps the movement Should be called “community reform.”
  • commented 2014-04-11 09:34:07 -0400
    vouchers would only make things more unequal.

    Vouchers increase segregation and worsen educational options for the neediest children.

    Vouchers also take funding out of the public schools and send it to unregulated private schools that do a worse job educating children.

    This has been documented consistently in voucher states like Wisconsin, where the children who attend voucher schools actually perform worse than those in the public schools from which they came.

    Vouchers are part of the problem that you describe, Assemblyman.

    Vouchers are not the solution!
  • commented 2014-04-10 23:19:18 -0400
    Assemblyman Singleton,

    My question: how do you determine what a failing school is?