Written by Opinion Friday, June 20, 2014 01:57 pm
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To the editor:
I have been blessed to work in the field education for the past 23 years.
During my tenure as a high school teacher, there has been a noticeable increase in the amount of funding some districts receive without the results to match these expenditures.
On May 15, 1974, Gov. Byrne addressed a joint session of the Assembly and Senate on the Robinson case. He spoke of the need to guarantee each child an opportunity to get a quality education, regardless of local property values. Two years later, New Jersey’s legislative body voted to implement a 2 percent income tax to guarantee each child in New Jersey receives an equal education. Almost 40 years and billions of dollars later, these same districts have not been able to reach educational equality.
We must demand that our state representatives create legislation that awards each child an equal dollar amount no matter where they live or how much their parents earn.
The court-ordered current funding system rewards underachievement and doles out pennies to those districts that follow successful operating procedures. A case in point, the cities of Ventnor and Brigantine combined receive a little over $4 million in state aid a year, while Pleasantville, with about the same population, took in a whopping $63 million in educational aid.
New Jersey politicians must stop rewarding poor performing districts with our hard-earned tax dollars. Last year, 30 school districts received more than 45 percent of all the K-12 educational funds, while the other 500-plus districts split the rest. Year after year, these poorly performing districts continue to receive the lion’s share of our educational funds without a noticeable increase in knowledge or test scores.
We need to stop borrowing billions of dollars for school construction, while making it almost impossible for private sector contractors to comply with pro-union labor construction laws. This is not a slight on union workers, but rather on politicians that have allowed construction union bosses to influence them to craft these laws.
Pro-labor union construction legislation has increased the cost of building by 18 to 25 percent. Since we have bonded over $10 billion in the past 10 years, the savings would be substantial.
Just this month, our governor announced that New Jersey will greatly reduce its funding obligation to the State Employees’ Pension System again. Since K-12 funding makes up over 25 percent of New Jersey’s yearly budget, both parties have to take a serious look at future school funding and bonding for construction projects. If not, our future tax obligation will continue to sky rocket or retired public sector employees will be left out in the cold.