Shades of School Choice in New Jersey

A bill has been proposed in the New Jersey Senate to offer scholarships to children in “chronically failing” public schools.

Under The Opportunity Scholarship Act private corporations would fund the scholarships in exchange for tax credits.The program would save taxpayers between $40 million and $80 million in one year. About 205 schools largely located in Camden, Newark and Paterson meet the critiera. A few schools in Gloucester and Burlington counties also qualify.

The New Jersey Education Association remains opposed. They argue the measure is a voucher program which will result in even worse public schools. Senator Raymond Lesniak (D-Union), a co-sponsor of the legislation sees it the other way. The scholarships will save private schools. In the past ten years, 40,000 private schools have closed, leading to higher public school enrollments and bigger tax bills.