Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Reaction to Chris Christie's Education Reform Proposals

Ed Mazlish sent us the following response regarding the Governor's education reform agenda:

Governor Christie called the Legislature into special session for a Constitutional Amendment to deal with the crisis of school funding and the high property taxes mandated by the Abbott decisions. Did he propose an Amendment to overrule th...e Abbott decisions? No. He proposed yet another cap on property tax increases - instead of dealing with (1) the Court's blatant violation of separation of powers by ordering spending and tax increases to support such spending; and (2) the misguided Constitutional provision that the Court used to justify such violation of separation of powers (the Public Education Clause). If he "loved children" and really wanted to deal with the education crisis - both from the perspective of failing schools and skyrocketting property taxes - he would have urged a very different Constitutional Amendment. And he certainly would not be trying to override taxing and spending decisions dealing with education made by local school boards and centralize such decisionmaking in Trenton.

What's even worse is that he had a very creative, committed Education Commissioner in Bret Schundler who has demonstrated novel thinking on solving education problems. Instead of implementing some of the vouchjer and charter school proposals Schundler has championed and pioneered, he threw Schundler under the bus at the first opportunity.

The solutions to the education problem are really not that difficult. Conservative thinkers and politicians have been providing the justifications necessary to implement real change in the education arena - these arguments have been available for at least all of Governor Christie's adult life, if not longer. He is either aware of them and chooses to ignore then, or he is willfully ignorant of them. Either way that does not demonstrate his love for the children.

Bashing the teachers unions makes for good soundbytes (and I am no fan of those unions, or any other unions for that matter). But it does not make for sound policy. It would be nice of the Governor had a better solution to the education crisis than artificial caps on property taxes (that have more holes than swiss cheese), redistributing wealth from rich districts to poor ones (otherwise known as raiding the surpluses of districts that actually saved money for a rainy day over the years), and demoralizing the teachers who will ultimately be teaching most children in New Jersey. We deserve better from a Governor who promised to shake things up.

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