On Tuesday, Governor Chris Christie unveiled a plan to change the way public schools are funded in New Jersey. The Governor proposed what he calls, “The Fairness Formula” which slashes state funding to New Jersey’s poorest school districts and provides more money to the state’s wealthiest districts.
The Formula would redistribute state aid according to student enrollment, rather than providing supplemental state aid to poor, urban school districts which do not have the tax base of other wealthier suburban districts. According to app.com and the Governor, the Fairness Formula would result in $6,599 per student in state funding, state-wide, based upon 2016 data.
The Governor touted the savings on property taxes that suburban residents could expect, citing a possible savings of $3,600 in property taxes in Haddonfield.
It is true, as many point out, that property taxes are high in New Jersey largely due to the funding of public schools. But, this plan, as Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto points out, seems to be unconstitutional, and would only be able to become law following an amendment to the State Constitution, since it requires the state to provide, “a thorough and efficient” educational system for all children. Overall, this plan seems to leave New Jersey’s poorest school districts effectively bankrupt and it is not likely for this to come close to becoming law. The Democrat-controlled legislature would need to approve a constitutional amendment, anyway.
However, the same Democrat-controlled legislature did approve of the Urban Hope Act, which seems to be gradually replacing public education all together in Camden City. And perhaps that is the behind-the-scenes plan that leads the Governor to believe that his proposal can work. If he simply gets rid of the poorest educational districts from the public domain, and turns them over to charter school organizations, all of which function on 90% of the funds that public schools receive per pupil, then the Governor doesn’t have much to worry about, and New Jersey’s public educational system becomes effectively Wisconsin’d.
That’s speculation, of course, but as the plan stands right now, I must say as just a regular basement blogger, that I think I’d rather leave the state for its deliberate disservice to our poorest children than leave the state for cheaper property taxes.